Gunnar Johannes Malmin Oral History Interview, 1980  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Malmin, Gunnar Johannes
1980 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
1 compact disc
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Gunnar Johannes Malmin, a child of Norwegian immigrants.
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
Access Restrictions

The oral history collection is open to all users.

Additional Reference Guides

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

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Gunnar Malmin was born on April 9, 1903 in Thompson, Iowa. His parents, Dr. Rasmus Malmin and Gabriella Aas, were both from Haugesund, Norway and came to America because of the over-supply of clergymen in Norway, which was Rasmus's profession. They first went to Yangton, SD, but later moved to Thompson, Iowa/Decorah, Iowa, where Rasmus was a professor and editor at Luther College and Gabriella was the principal at an all girls' school. Gunnar and his siblings-Sophie, Marie, and Olaf-were all born in Thompson. Gunnar went to high school in Decorah, after which he went to Luther College Preparatory Dept. and College. Gunnar received scholarships from the American Scandinavian Foundation and Carnegie Institution-Department of Historical Research. In 1937, Gunnar began teaching at Pacific Lutheran College, then a junior college. When he began, the school had three hundred students, and no regular paychecks were given to the professors. Gunnar remained at PLU for thirty-two years. Gunnar married Dorothy Brann, and had four children: David, Olaf, Jon, and Anne. His sons went on to attend PLU, and Anne attended St. Olaf's. In 1945, Gunnar became a charter member of the Norwegian-American Historical Association and had materials published. That same year, he also became the director of the Normanna Male Chorus. Throughout the years, Gunnar has been very active in Scandinavian organizations and church. He is a member of Northlight Club (Nordlandslaget) Nordlyse, and the Sons of Norway as well as being an honorary member of the Daughters of Norway. Gunnar's church life includes directing church choirs since 1921, Post Chaplain at Ft. Lewis, McNeil Island Penitentiary Chapel Choir, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, and the Norwegian Christmas church services. Gunnar has taken ten trips to Norway, and remains in contact with his relatives there. Gunnar believes his Norwegian heritage is a "tremendous element in his life" and has received a St. Olaf medal from the King of Norway for his contributions to Norwegian culture.


Full Name: Gunnar Johannes Malmin. Father: Dr. Rasmus Malmin. Mother: Gabriella Aas. Paternal Grandfather: Ole Rasmussen Malmin. Paternal Grandmother Marie Stvnmyr. Paternal Grandfather Gabriel Gottfried Aas. Maternal Grandmother Sophie Manone Schroder. Brothers and Sisters: Sophie Malmin Larson, Marie Malmin Meyer, Olaf G. Malmin. Spouse: Dorothy Louise Brann. Children: David E. Malmin, Olaf G. Malmin, Jon E. Malmin, Anne Malmin Berg.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted on April 23, 1980 with Gunnar Malmin. It contains information on family background, education, occupation, marriage and family, community involvement, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also contains a photocopied picture of Gunnar.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

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
38, side 1 004/02: PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Born on April 9, 1903 in Thompson, Iowa.
38, side 1 006: PARENTS
Rasmus was an educated clergyman. Gabriella was a principal at a girls' school. Story behind parents' meeting. They were from Norway.
38, side 1 019: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
(see lineage) Sophie Larson was a missionary in China. Marie Meyer is a teacher at St. Olaf's College. Olaf was a pastor and professor.
38, side 1 028: GRANDPARENTS
Met maternal grandmother when studying in Norway. Paternal grandfather was a government official. They were all from Haugesund, Norway.
Over supply of clergymen. Preached to immigrants in 1892, immigrant experience ca. 1892.
38, side 1 058: YANGTON, SOUTH DAKOTA
Relates his parents' first dinner experience and how they overdressed for the occasion.
38, side 1 072/13: THOMPSON, IOWA/DECORAH, IOWA
Father was a professor and editor at Luther College. Then on to St. Paul, Minnesota and being an editor and theological professor there. This was a Norwegian community. They spoke Norwegian at home.
38, side 1 083: EDUCATION
High school, Decorah, Iowa. Luther College Preparatory Department and College. Scholarships from the American Scandinavian Foundation and Carnegie Institution, Department of Historical Research, archives Scandinavian history. He started getting involved in music too.
Material published. Charter member (1945). Materials on Norwegian immigration. Materials published in the Decorah Posten.
38, side 1 108: SWEDEN/DENMARK
Examined archive materials for the articles.
38, side 1 114/01: ARRIVED PLU
Taught 32 years. Was an exchange professor to Norway and Alberta, Canada for one year each.
38, side 1 120: PLU 1937
Junior college at that time: 300 students. No regular pay checks. Charged groceries at Dahl's grocery store.
38, side 1 144: PLU CHOIR OF THE WEST
Started 1927 by Joseph Edwards. They toured Norway in the summer of 1963.
38, side 1 158: NORMANNA MALE CHORUS
Tacoma director since 1945. Original costumes Norwegian. First Sangerfest was in 1903.
Support men. Dinners, rummage sales.
38, side 1 196: SANGERFEST 1951
Largest in Seattle. (See counter I-158)
38, side 1 200/02: NORMANNA MALE CHORUS
90th anniversary. Had a special concert (see counter I-158)
38, side 1 205: WESTERN VIKING
Correspondent for. Little knowledge of English and need for papers in the immigrant's language.
38, side 1 224: PLU
Taught Norwegian, no one around to do it (early 1940s).
38, side 1 229: CHURCH LIFE
Director of church choirs since 1921. Post Chaplain at Fort Lewis. McNeil Island Penitentiary Chapel Choir.
38, side 1 260:
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Norwegian Christmas Church Service (16 years). Joined by community churches and Normanna Male Chorus.
38, side 1 274/03: PLU
Christmas service put on by students.
Member all except for Daughters of Norway. Honorary member. Northlight Club (Nordlandslaget), Nordlyse, Sons of Norway and president of local Sons of Norway.
38, side 1 305: WIFE
Dorothy Brann. Children, three sons and one daughter. Sons attended PLU. Daughter attended St. Olaf. One son attended school in Norway near Hamar. He finished gymnas and took his atrium in music. Later he did his Doctors thesis in music in Sweden.
38, side 1 353/04: TEN TRIPS BACK TO NORWAY
Keeps in touch with relatives. All relatives except for immediate family live in Norway. (see counter I-371)
Tremendous element in his life.
38, side 1 371: FAMILY REUNIONS
Big get-togethers. Scandinavian traditions, maintain foods and Christmas customs.
38, side 1 384: CHRISTMAS
Rice porridge and almond concealed in one dish.
38, side 1 399: SPEAKS NORWEGIAN
Table prayer. Received St. Olaf medal from King of Norway for contributions to Norwegian culture. 1975 entertained the King when he visited the U.S.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Family--United States
  • Norwegian heritage
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Sankt Olavsmedaljen med ekegren
  • Personal Names :
  • Berg, Anne Malmin
  • Brann, Dorothy
  • Malmin, David
  • Malmin, Gunnar--Interviews (creator)
  • Aas, Gabriella
  • Malmin, Dr. Rasmus
  • Malmin, Jon
  • Malmin, Olaf
  • Corporate Names :
  • American-Scandinavian Foundation
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Luther College (Decorah, Iowa)
  • Nordlandslaget Nordlyset (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Normanna Male Chorus (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Sons of Norway (U.S.) Norden Lodge No. 2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Western Viking (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Aas family
  • Brann family
  • Malmin family
  • Schroder family
  • Stvnmyr family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Decorah (Iowa)
  • Haugesund (Norway)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Thompson (Iowa)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Choral conductors
  • College teachers