Jennie Josefine Brehm Carlson Oral History Interview, 1983  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Carlson, Jennie Josefine Brehm
1983 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Jennie Josefine Brehm Carlson, a Swedish immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
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The oral history collection is open to all users.

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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Jennie Carlson was born Jennie Josefine Brehm on September 19, 1895 in Strömstad, Bohuslän, Sweden. She moved to Fredrikstad, Norway as a young girl and was educated and confirmed there. Jennie moved to America with her grandmother and her uncle in 1910, her father had come first, and her mother and siblings came later. Jennie learned English quickly, taking night classes in Mt. Vernon, Washington. She worked as a housekeeper for Norwegian and American families. Jennie moved to Seattle and married in 1919; she bore two children, a boy and a girl. Jennie returned to Norway for a visit in 1959 and can still speak the language, but she has not retained many Norwegian or Swedish traditions in America.


Father: Hilmer Brehm. Mother: Anna Carlson Brehm. Maternal Grandmother: Gustave Carlson. Brothers and Sisters: There were seven children in all, but two died. HÃ¥kan Brehm, Ester Brehm, Ile Brehm. Spouse: (?) Carlson Children: HÃ¥kan (?) Brehm, Carlson Esther (?), Pickering Carlson.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Jennie Carlson on January 17, 1983 in Seattle, Washington. She had a bit of difficulty remembering names, so some specific details are missing. This interview contains information on personal background, emigration, settling in, work, marriage, church, family, and heritage. The interview was conducted in English.

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Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
222, side 1 005: FAMILY BACKGROUND
Born Jennie Josefine Brehm on September 19, 1895 in Strömstad, Bohuslän, Sweden. Strömstad is south of the Norwegian-Swedish border and south of Fredrikstad, Norway.
222, side 1 076: PARENTS
Anna and Hilmer Brehm lived in the country and worked at whatever; father worked in a quarry and mother raised a big family of seven.
222, side 1 089: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Ester, HÃ¥kan, Ile (?), two died - Jennie can't remember the rest. Dad emigrated to US first; then sent for mother and the family.
222, side 1 110: GRANDPARENTS
She doesn't remember any grandparents except her maternal grandmother, Gustav Carlson.
222, side 1 124: HOME IN NORWAY
Lived and attended school in Fredrikstad. Was confirmed in Norway; church was close.
222, side 1 145: CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY
Christmas was real nice - real joyful. Had a Sunday school celebration and program with a big Christmas tree.On Christmas Eve they had lutefisk, more so in Sweden than in Norway. Had sort of a smörgåsbord, good things to eat.
222, side 1 190:
(The interviewer is confused here, thinking that Jennie was born in Strömstad, Norway. Jennie repeats that she was born in Stromstad -Bohus len (Sweden) - and moved to Fredrikstad (Norway) where her father received employment.)
222, side 1 230: EMIGRATION
Father came first; Jennie can't remember the exact location. Jennie came in 1910 with her grandmother and uncle who had been home to visit. Grandma stayed with her son, Aksel (Axel) Carlson in Mt. Vernon, WA. Jennie stayed for a while working for families.
222, side 1 271: TRIP OVER
Went on a big steamer from Oslo; very lovely trip. Mother and other children came later in 190? she can't remember. Her father went to Bremerton and had a job in the navy yard.
222, side 1 312: SETTLING IN AND WORK
Jennie started evening school right away in Mt. Vernon, so learning English wasn't too hard. From there she went to work for both Norwegian and American families. Then she moved to Seattle.
222, side 1 345:
She thought America was beautiful when she arrived; also her uncle's farm which had vegetables and fruits. Her cousins had children so Jennie had playmates; she wasn't too lonesome. The food was better here because their supply was better.
222, side 1 368:
She was working for families so did not live with her parents and siblings who had a one-acre place in Bremerton. The kids went to school in Bremerton. She worked a few years and then married in 1919.
Met him in Seattle where she was employed as a domestic and baby sitter.
222, side 1 397:
Belonged to church in Seattle. Doesn't remember much about receiving her citizenship.
222, side 1 418:
Met her husband at Swedish Methodist Church. Both were Lutheran from childhood. Her husband had joined the Methodist church, so she did also. He worked at many things; came from Sweden but didn't have a trade. Later he went into mechanics and machinery.
222, side 1 442: WEDDING
They had a plain wedding at Uncle Conrad Carlson's in Seattle. (The Carlson's were mother's relatives.) Had a nice, blue dress which a friend helped her make. Had dinner at her uncle's and moved to a rented home in Seattle, close to downtown. Her husband worked, and she kept on babysitting.
222, side 1 472: CHURCH AND HERITAGE
Her husband was very intelligent and was superintendent of the Sunday school. She taught Sunday school also and was active in the women's group.
They belonged to none, but went occasionally with friends.
222, side 1 483: SCANDINAVIAN FOODS
Jennie cooked what was available. Her mom made lefse over here, but not Jennie. Back in Scandinavia they had lutefisk, but not here. Jennie says "we just got away from that tradition - what we use to do". But they continued to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and bake cookies.
222, side 1 511: FAMILY
They had two children: boy and girl. She can't remember names. Her son, HÃ¥kan Brehm (?), lives in Mt. Vernon; is now retired. Her daughter, Esther Pickering (?), is married and has a family. She lives in Issaquah where her husband is a farmer.
222, side 1 563: HERITAGE
She returned home in 1959 - a wonderful trip. They went back to where they came from. The country hadn't changed much, but the old house was gone.
222, side 1 581: SPEAKING NORWEGIAN
"Jeg kan snakke norsk...", but suggests she would do better in a conversation, so Inger asks about "familien din". Jennie responds that "de har det bra. Soester er gift..." Her brother is married also. "Jeg har sju barnebarn. De besøker meg." She has many relatives around in Bremerton and Mt. Vernon.
222, side 1 628:
"Takk for i dag." (End of tape.)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Family -- Norway
  • Marriage service
  • Sweden -- Social conditions -- 1945-
  • Swedish-Americans -- Ethnic identity
  • Swedish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Swedish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Brehm, Anna Carlson
  • Brehm, Hilmer
  • Carlson, Gustav
  • Carlson, Jennie Josefine
  • Carlson, Jennie Josefine Brehm--Interviews (creator)
  • Brehm, Jennie Josefine
  • Family Names :
  • Brehm family
  • Carlson family
  • Carlson, family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Bohuslän (Sweden)
  • Fredrikstad (Norway)
  • Mt. Vernon (Wash.)
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Strömstad (Sweden)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics