Martha Tweiten Handeland Oral History Interview, 1981

Overview of the Collection

Handeland, Martha Tweiten
Martha Tweiten Handeland Oral History Interview
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
2 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Martha Tweiten Handeland, a Norwegian immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 2535357586
Fax: 2535357315
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

Martha Tweiten Handeland was born on July 26, 1910 in University Place, Tacoma, WA. Both of her parents were originally from near Sirdal in southern Norway, between Flekkefjord and Stavanger. Her father, Ommund Tveiten, came to the U.S. in the late 1800's and her mother, Pauline Amalia Liland, came in 1904; they were married in Tacoma. Martha was the second oldest of eight children, of which six were born in the U.S. When she was 10, her father decided he wanted to farm with his brother, and the family moved back to Norway in August 1920. She returned to the U.S. at age 17 1/2 with her older brother Carl, leaving Norway on April 14, 1928. They traveled through Liverpool and Halifax, England and landed in Quebec, Canada. They took a train from Quebec to Vancouver B.C. and then a boat to Seattle, after which they lived on a farm in Tacoma with their aunt Bertha. Martha's brother Oscar returned to the U.S. in 1929, her father in 1930, and her mother and remaining five siblings came in 1931. During this time, Martha was a maid and did housework for various people.

She met her husband, Torvald Handeland, whom she knew from Norway, and they were married by Reverend Michelson in a Norwegian service at Messiah Lutheran on October 1, 1938. They had three children: Einar Ingvald, born on January 14, 1943; Pauline Olivia Campbell in September 1944; and Arne Melvin on October 1, 1946. Einar is an engineer at Tudor Engineering in Seattle; he and his wife, Marilyn Jones, a teacher, have two adopted children. Pauline married John Campbell, a chemical engineer for Weyerhauser, in 1968, and now lives and teaches in Aberdeen, WA. Arne lives in University Place and teaches at Curtis High School in Tacoma; his wife is Andrea Holmes.

Martha's family has been active in the church and all were baptized and confirmed Lutheran. She now attends Gloria Dei Lutheran. She has been involved in Norwegian organizations-Normanna, Valhalla, and Embla Lodge-since 1930. She and her husband had a motel for eighteen years, her children helped out with it. She has maintained Norwegian traditions within her family, and her children were taught Norwegian.


Full Name: Martha Tweiten Handeland. Maiden Name: Martha Tweiten. Father: Ommund Karlson Tweiten. Mother: Pauline Amelia Liland. Paternal Grandfather: Karl Pederson Tveiten. Paternal Grandmother: Marte Lunde. Maternal Grandfather: Ommund Pederson Hampland Liland. Maternal Grandmother: Anna Malena Jonsdatter Espetveit. Brothers and Sisters: Carl Tweiten, Oscar Tweiten, Anna Malena Hopen, Alma Johanna Tweiten, Bertha Tweiten Berg, Jørgen Tweiten, Thor Bernhard Tweiten. Spouse: Torvald Martin Handeland. Children: Einar Ingvald Handeland, Pauline Olivia Campbell, Arne Melvin Handeland.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Martha Handeland on October 27, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. This interview provides information on parents' life in Tacoma before moving back to Norway in 1920, family background, voyage to Norway, life and schooling in Norway, American-Norwegian Christmas traditions, household responsibilities, return trip to Canada and Seattle, life in Tacoma, marriage, children's lives, maintenance of Norwegian traditions. It also contains a photograph of Martha Handeland and a photograph of Martha and her husband Torvald. The interview was conducted in English with some Norwegian towards the end of the interview. Also see Carl Tweiten, Anna Hopen, and Torvald Handeland.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Custodial History

The Oral History collection project was started during an experimental course on Scandinavian Women in the Pacific Northwest. Students in the course were encouraged to interview women and learn about their experiences as immigrants to the United States. The project was continued and expanded with support from the president's office and by grants from the L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, from the Joel E. Ferris Foundation and the Norwegian Emigration Fund of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project was directed by Dr. Janet E. Rasmussen. The collection was transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Department.

Acquisition Information

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Processing Note

The interview was conducted by Inger Nygaard Carr using a cassette recorder. A research copy was also prepared from the original. To further preserve the content of the interview, it is now being transferred to compact disc. We deliberately did not transcribe the entire interview because we want the researchers to listen to the interviewee's own voice. The transcription index highlights important aspects of the interview and the tape counter numbers noted on the Partial Interview Transcription are meant as approximate finding guides and refer to the location of a subject on the cassette/CD. The recording quality is good

The collection was transcribed by Mary Sue Gee, Julie Peterson and Becky Husby.


Rasmussen, Janet Elaine. New Land New Lives: Scandinavian Immigrants to the Pacific Northwest Tacoma, Washington University of Washington Press 1993

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
107, side 1 018: PERSONAL BACKGROUND
: Born in University Place, Tacoma, Washington on July 26, 1910.
107, side 1 035:
Moved to Norway at age 10 in August 1920. Father had come to U.S. in the late 1800s. Mother came in 1904. Parents married at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Tacoma.
107, side 1 065: PARENTS
Met at church. Norwegian services. Father left Norway because people were poor there. Took off to make a better living.
107, side 1 092: FATHER
Raised on a farm. Seven brothers and two sisters. Father's name Ommund Tveiten. Father's oldest brother came first to U.S., but never heard from after arrival in New York.
107, side 1 136: FATHER'S TRAVELS
Came to Wisconsin for a few years and returned to Norway. Was there a year or so then came out west. Brothers, Ommund, Karl, Martin, Johan came out west and did logging.
107, side 1 172:
Parents married in 1908. Mother's name, Pauline Amalia Liland.
107, side 1 182: MOTHER
Came to U.S. because her mother had died in Norway. She brought her 12-year-old brother too. Her younger sister died before she could come to the U.S. She had two sisters here already. She was about 20 when she came to the U.S.
107, side 1 232:
Mother brought her brother to his aunt and uncle at University Place, Tacoma. She worked as a housemaid until she was married.
107, side 1 249: PARENTS ORIGINS
Both came from near Sirdal in Southern Norway between Flekkefjord and Stavanger.
Ommund Liland from Hompland. Anna Malena Espetveit. Talks about grandparents and where they lived. They had nine kids, two died when very small. They were farmers.
107, side 1 325:
Grandfather and Uncle Per came to the U.S. for a few years but disliked it so they returned to Norway.
Karl Tveiten and Marte Lund. They were farmers.
1920 father decided he wanted to farm with his brother. There were eight children, six born in the U.S. Carl, Oscar, Anna, Alma, Bertha.
107, side 1 402: FATHER'S WORK IN NORWAY
Not enough to farm. Got a job in Kristiansund as a chauffeur. Took classes in engineering so he could care for the car.
107, side 1 420: TRAVEL TO NORWAY
Left Union Station, Tacoma and arrived in New York after six days by train with a transfer in Chicago. 5-6 days wait in New York in a hotel.
107, side 1 440: HOTEL
Two beds for eight people. One bathroom per floor. Uncle and Aunt Bertha returned with them. Spent some time in New York. First time on escalators.
107, side 1 469: BOAT TRIP
Nine days on the "Bergensfjord." Boat was good. Some sick.
107, side 1 494: TRAIN
Took own food. Can't remember much.
107, side 1 508: ARRIVAL NORWAY
Landed in Stavanger. Met by Uncle Ommund and other relatives. Took train to Moi. Took boat to Tonstad. Took horse and buggy two miles to Tveiten. Too many for the buggy, took turns walking.
107, side 1 568: SCHOOL
Hard to start Norwegian school after a few years in Tacoma.
107, side 1 578: NORWAY SCHOOL
More Bible stories. Memorize Bible verses. Went to Sunday school. Fourteen weeks of regular school. Had school one month then off for one month, teacher taught other places. After confirmed finished with school. School divided into two classes - Småskole and Storskole. Omskole, more like high school. Father chauffeured a combination passenger-cargo, car-truck vehicle.
107, side 1 625: HOME IN NORWAY
Beautiful home. Winters more severe. Had skis to get to school. Very cold. 3-4 feet of ice on the ground.
107, side 1 649: CHRISTMAS
Same as their Christmas in the U.S. Christmas Eve Day, found the tree in the woods. Sang Christmas carols, Norwegian and English. Decorated the tree, candles, made trimming some out gladspapir. Got an orange to hang on the tree. Decorate with cookies, korien.
107, side 1 701: CHRISTMAS DINNER
Pinne steak, lamb salted, dried, put on a stick and fried in the ambers on the fire. Potatoes, lefse, potato kake.
107, side 1 780: CHRISTMAS EVE
Lighted candles. Went around tree and sang carols. Ate julegroet (rice) at midnight. Put out something for Julenissen in barn.
107, side 1 814: CHRISTMAS
Always got something new. No presents under the tree.
107, side 1 827: CHRISTMAS MORNING
No church service held there. Sleigh bells. Skiing. Visiting other people. Ungdomhus, a gathering place for youth.
Stories of Julenissen, trolls, viftefolk(?). Needed to be aware of these spirits.
107, side 1 877: SPRINGTIME
Lots to do on the farm. Plant potatoes, corn, and a little wheat. Had cows and sheep.
107, side 1 894: CHORES
Did carding, spinning, weaving, knitting of clothes. Took a lot of time. Lady with a knitting machine helped.
107, side 1 905: CHORES
Helped with chores around the barn, milking, feeding cows. Milking was women's work.
107, side 1 912: MEN'S WORK
Cut hay in the summer. Took it home by sleigh in the winter. Cut wood. Went to Snorskog to catch "ryper" (Ptarmigan) which are small bird they caught in snares. They were sent to England and canned and considered a delicacy. She speaks in Norwegian about a cousin. A liter of "ryper" sold for 40 nkr. last Christmas.
107, side 1 959: FATHER'S WORK
Went to Tonstad to get supplies. He was also a mail carrier.
107, side 1 980:
Confirmed then stayed home for a while.
107, side 1 984: RETURN TO U.S.
At age 17 1/2 with brother Carl. Wanted to maintain U.S. citizenship. Looking for work. Didn't have jobs in Norway. Talks about her father's job some more.
107, side 1 1013: LEAVING NORWAY
On April 14, 1928. 17 years old. Landed in Canada. Talks about her feelings leaving.
107, side 1 1076: TRAVELS
Went through Liverpool, England. Then twelve days by a slow boat to Halifax, England. She talks some of why they took this route.
107, side 2 021: TRAVELS
Went from Halifax, England to Quebec, Canada. Had doctor's examination in Quebec. Six days by train from Quebec to Vancouver B.C. Took boat to Squamish B.C. Stayed with Uncle Alek. Back to Vancouver then took boat to Seattle.
107, side 2 103: TRAVELS
Arrived Seattle, taxi to Greyhound Bus. Met an uncle at Jefferson Hotel. Took taxi to meet Aunt Bertha at University Place.
107, side 2 148:
Stayed with Aunt Bertha until mother came. Helped aunt with cows. Sold milk. Talks about the farm. Bertha's husband worked at Clearfir Lumber Co.
107, side 2 190:
Brother, Carl worked at Clearfir Lumber Co., then went out with a logging company.
107, side 2 197: LANGUAGE PROBLEMS
None since she'd learned it before. Saw many old friends from school who were now graduated.
107, side 2 218: SCHOOL
Didn't like school in Norway as well as she had in the U.S.
107, side 2 224: REST OF FAMILY COMES
Brother, Oscar came over in 1929. Father came to Vancouver in 1930, he wasn't a U.S. citizen. He worked in the woods. Carl, when 21 and already a U.S. citizen, was able to obtain citizenship for his father. Mother came in 1931 with five others. The whole family was reunited.
107, side 2 259: WORK
Martha did housework. Worked as a maid. Brother, Oscar and she rented a house on Cushman Avenue.
107, side 2 280: WORK
Talks about different uniforms she'd wear on the job. White uniform for Dr. Kiehl. She did cooking and cleaning. $30 per month.
107, side 2 334: HOME
Mother and father lived in the same house that she and Oscar had rented on Cushman. $20 a month for a furnished home.
107, side 2 356: FATHER'S WORK
He worked in a lumber mill by White River and Enumclaw. Younger siblings Barney (5) and Jorgen (7) had difficulties in school. They didn't know English.
107, side 2 396: WORK
For Dr. Pasco for $50 a month. Very demanding. Worked hard.
107, side 2 437: WORK
New job for two old maids. Learned to cook differently on job. Toast, muffins, fruit popular U.S. breakfast. Little fruit in Norway. Everything made from scratch.
107, side 2 478: MET HUSBAND
Knew from Norway.
107, side 2 500: ACTIVITIES
Norwegian organizations. Normanna, Valhalla, Embla Lodge member since 1930.
107, side 2 509: WEDDING
Service in Norwegian at Messiah Lutheran. Minister Rev. Michelson. Reception after service. October 1, 1938.
107, side 2 537:
Husband was logger when married. Rented place on 7th and N. "L" street. Built home at 2340 S. Ainsworth.
107, side 2 556: CHILDREN
First child January 14, 1943, Einar Ingvald. Now an engineer at Tudor Engineering in Seattle. Wife, Marilyn Jones a teacher. Two adopted children. Einar was in Vietnam for nine months and again for eight months.
107, side 2 612: CHILDREN
Pauline, September 1944.
107, side 2 627: WORK
Martha and husband had a motel for eighteen years. Children helped with this. Husband worked at Martinac Ship Building.
107, side 2 641: CHILDREN
Pauline went to Bellingham then to Washington State College in Pullman, Washington. Now a teacher. Married in 1968. Met husband, John Campbell at Washington State. He's a chemical engineer for Weyerhauser and previously for Shell Oil in California. She taught at Oxnard, California. They now live in Aberdeen and she is teaching in the Aberdeen School District.
107, side 2 690: CHILDREN
October 1, 1946, Arne born. Went to University of Washington. Teaches at Curtis High School. Lives in University Place. Married Andrea Holmes.
107, side 2 721: CHURCH
Family active in church. All baptized and confirmed Lutheran. She belongs to Circle. Goes to Gloria Dei Lutheran.
Einar was fluent Norwegian when a child but his teacher discouraged its use.
Taught children Norwegian. Baking kumle, potato balls or dumplings with salted pork in the middle. Child learned Norwegian from Audun Toven at the University of Washington.
107, side 2 827: SUMMERTIME IN NORWAY
At the Sæter she enjoyed cutting grass and putting it up in haystacks. Stacked hay for winter.
107, side 2 864: SUNDAYS IN NORWAY
Couldn't do any baking or gardening. A day of rest.
107, side 2 877:
She speaks Norwegian and mentions some of her favorite Christmas songs.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Christmas
  • Education--Norway
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Family--United States
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs

Personal Names

  • Espetveit, Anna Malena Jondatter
  • Handeland, Einar Ingvald
  • Liland, Ommund Pederson Hampland
  • Liland, Pauline Amelia
  • Tweiten, Martha--Interviews (creator)
  • Campbell, Pauline Olivia (Handeland)
  • Handeland, Arne Melvin
  • Handeland, Martha
  • Handeland, Torvald Martin
  • Liland, Ommund Pederson Hampland
  • Lunde, Marte
  • Tveiten, Karl Pederson
  • Tweiten, Ommund Karlson

Corporate Names

  • Bergensfjord (Steamship)
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Messiah Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Normanna Hall (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Our Saviours Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Swedish Order of Valhalla (Tacoma, Wash.)

Family Names

  • Espetveit family
  • Handeland family
  • Liland family
  • Lunde family
  • Tveiten family
  • Tweiten family

Geographical Names

  • Aberdeen(Wash.)
  • Deming (Wash.)
  • Sirdal (Norway)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • University Place(Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Domestics
  • Farmers
  • Loggers