Sigurda Haug Aamot Oral History Interview, 1981

Overview of the Collection

Aamot, Sigurda Haug
Sigurda Haug Aamot Oral History Interview
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
1 photograph
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Sigurda Haug Aamot, 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

Sigurda Aamot was born on July 16, 1908 in Samnanger, Norway to Ragneel Haug and Magdelee Ranghilda Englesdotter Drogheda. She had two sisters: Magdalena and Marget. Sigurda's father died when she was one year old, and the family moved to Osøyro, where her mother began working at a fish cannery. At the age of thirteen, Sigurda began working at a restaurant, and later worked in a factory. Her first husband was Mr. Nordström, with whom she had her son Robert, but they were divorced prior to Sigurda's emigration to America. Sigurda and Robert left for America in December 1929, and upon arrival to the country, they went to Tacoma, Washington, where Magdalena and her husband lived.

During her first six years in Tacoma, Sigurda did housework for various families, but was unhappy with this line of employment as it kept her away from her son. In 1935, she found janitorial work, which provided her with better pay and hours. Soon after that, she met Olaf Amot during a dinner party at her sister's house. Olaf was a logger and had changed his name from the original Norwegian spelling of Aamot to Amot upon arrival to the United States (Sigurda herself later returned to the original spelling). Olaf and Sigurda were married in 1936 and had two children: Lynn and Arthur. In 1962, Sigurda joined the Daughters of Norway, and she also took part in Leikaring dance, which was previously involved with in Norway as well. In Tacoma, Sigurda served as a Leikaring instructor and danced at various Norwegian events, including May 17th and June 23rd. Other activities she enjoyed were oil painting and writing poetry. Sigurda returned to Norway on several occasions and was very proud to be of Viking descent. Nevertheless, she loved America and declared that she would stick with the country under any circumstances, including war with Norway.


Full Name: Sigurda Haug Aamot Maiden Name: Sigurda Haug Father: Ragneel Haug Mother: Magdelee Ranghilda Englesdotter Drogheda Paternal Grandfather: Per Haug Paternal Grandmother: Magdelee Haug Maternal Grandfather: Angel Drogheda Brothers and Sisters: Magdalena Krokenes Marget Lepsø Spouse: (?) Nordström Olaf Amot Children: Lynn Julian Robert Nordström Art Amot

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Sigurda Aamot on August 7, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. It contains information on family background, emigration, work, marriage, community activities, personal hobbies, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also contains a poem entitled "A Prayer for America" by Sigurda, a song entitled "The Emigrant Women" by Sigurda, and a photograph of Sigurda at Normanna Hall's 17th of May celebration, 1981. The interview was conducted in English with some Norwegian towards the end of the interview. See also Magdalena Haug Krokenes (t234).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Preservation Note

Recording Quality: Good

Custodial History

Acquisition Information

The Oral History collection contains the recorded interviews of 282 men and women who emigrated from Scandinavia and settled in the Pacific Northwest. The 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. Upon completion, the collection was transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Department.

Processing Note

The interview was conducted by Morrene Nesvig 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 excellent.

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


New Land New Lives, Scandinavian Immigrants to the Pacific Northwest

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
Born in Samnanger, Norway near Bergen, in July 1908. Family name "Haug" means "hill'.
Born in Samnanger, Norway near Bergen, in July 1908. Family name "Haug" means "hill'.
78, side 1 090: SISTERS
Marget and Magdalena.
78, side 1 095:
Moved to Osøyro, Norway where her mother got a job in a fish-canning factory. They canned King Olaf Sardines.
78, side 1 113: GRANDPARENTS
Paternal grandfather sailed the seven seas. Paternal grandmother, modest, quiet and dressed in black. Maternal grandparents died before she was born. They were wealthy, but poor in the end. They traded a crown for a bolt of cloth.
78, side 1 165: HUSBAND'S NAME
Aamot means river that comes down and goes into a circle like the letter "o".
78, side 1 189: CHILDHOOD
Taught herself to swim at age 7. Swam to an island and back, got a licking when she got home.
78, side 1 227: SCHOOL DAYS
Started at age five. Loved school. Offered a loan to go to college, but her mother turned it down.
78, side 1 225: WORK
Employed at a restaurant at age thirteen. Later factory work paid by how much you could do.
Mr. Nordstrom, later divorced. Setting off for America aboard the Bergensfjord. Nice state room. Treated nicely.
78, side 1 301: LEAVING NORWAY
Felt awfully funny. Mother crying all the time.
78, side 1 309: BOAT TRIP
Terrific storm, but loved the trip over. Everybody seasick but her. December 1929.
78, side 1 333: ELLIS ISLAND
Statue of Liberty was beautiful. Like another world. Couldn't understand language. Doctor's exam in Bergen. Had to have $300 before you left Norway. Trip planned 1 1/2 years in advance
78, side 1 361: ARRIVAL TACOMA
Sister Magdalena was already here. Her husband had come five years before and sent for her.
78, side 1 373: TRAIN TRIP
Wouldn't let a lady hold her baby. Told to hang on to baby, somebody would steal it. Could only say "sandwiches." That's all they ate on the train due to this. She thought peanut butter was goat cheese. Thought Pennsylvania was the most beautiful place ever. Washing felt like Norway.
78, side 1 :
78, side 1 427:
spent first day and night sleeping at her sister's in Tacoma.
Two apples in Norway cost $1. For $1 in the U.S. you received a bag of apples that you could hardly carry.
78, side 1 446: DEPRESSION
Housework at Scofield's. 18 out of 24 hours in their home. $30 a month, the only way to survive. Duties described.
78, side 1 502: ENGLISH
Could read it long before she could speak it.
78, side 1 527: WORK
Employed at the Weyerhaeuser home in Tacoma for three months. Worked for Dr. Pasco, the worst job she ever had. Had to be away from her baby, but no choice.
78, side 1 552: JANITOR WORK
1935. Better paying job. Less hours. Later employed at the Washington building.
78, side 1 562: MEETING OLAF AAMOT
Met at her sister's home during a dinner party. Married in 1936. He was employed as a logger.
78, side 1 578: CHILDREN
Robert Nordström works in San Jose, California. Lynn married Joseph Julian who is a sociologist and teaches in Bakersfield, California. She teaches Spanish. Arthur Amot works for the government and lives in Seattle. She has three grandchildren. The children spoke Norwegian at home until a letter came from their teacher asking them to practice speaking English at home.
78, side 1 610: EASIER FOR MEN OR WOMEN
It was Depression time, hardly any jobs. Tough for everybody.
78, side 1 623:
America bigger than she thought. Norway narrow-minded. U.S. broad minded.
78, side 1 629: MEDICAL CARE
No parents here to take of you, just too bad. Son had asthma bad. Two children born at St. Joseph's Hospital.
78, side 1 666:
Babysat in her home to earn extra money. Lived in her present home since 1938.
78, side 2 006:
Mostly Norwegian friends. Loved the social life.
78, side 2 014: SOCIAL LIFE IN NORWAY
Leikaring dance. Acrobatics.
78, side 2 046: DAUGHTERS OF NORWAY
Joined in 1962. Husband was a member of the Sons of Norway, she joined later.
78, side 2 080: LEIKARING TODAY
She is the instructor. Group dances for various gatherings. They meet in Normanna Hall every Monday (reference throughout).
78, side 2 135: HAMBO
Wants to organize another dance group.
78, side 2 154: LEIKARING
Danced at PLU. Very active group. They wear Norway's national clothes.
78, side 2 230: HOBBIES
A lot of painting. Writes poems. Wrote "Immigrant Woman" in conjunction with Prof. Malmin (she recites). Also wrote a poem for America currently in the White House (she recites).
78, side 2 327: CHURCH LIFE
She's not religious. Believes in Creator as the Indians do. Respects everyone's beliefs.
78, side 2 357: TRIPS TO NORWAY
Many things had changed, couldn't believe it. Would love to go back again. Keeps in touch with relatives.
78, side 2 393:
Describes her oil paintings.
78, side 2 422: RELATIVES VISIT TO THE U.S.
Some came back last year. Husband became ill shortly after and died.
78, side 2 440: SEVENTEENTH OF MAY
Sings a Norwegian song honoring this day. Daughters of Norway have a big doings on this day.
78, side 2 462: 23RD OF JUNE
Big Norwegian day. Dancing around the bonfire.
78, side 2 480: LEIKARING
Lady accompanies them. She sometimes dances inside the ring but prefers the group to dance without her.
78, side 2 498: RECALLS A VIKING STORY
About Eric Blood. Grandfather told her the story, handed down from generation to generation. Story of the Vikings in Denmark.
78, side 2 568: LEIF ERICKSON
Not a nice sweet man. Brutal, warrior of the worst kind, liked to fight. Norwegian explorers famous due to their readiness nature. Recites a story of the original Norwegians. They come from German stock.
78, side 2 596: NORWEGIAN HERITAGE
Very proud to be of Viking blood. Loves this country. Stick with America whatever happens. If we fought with Norway she will be behind the U.S.
78, side 2 607:
Says farewell in Norwegian.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Norway--Social conditions--1945-
  • Norwegian-Americans--Ethnic identity
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Poetry
  • Railroad travel

Personal Names

  • Amot (Aamot), Olaf
  • Amot, Arthur
  • Drogheda, Magdelee Ranghilda Englesdott
  • Haug, Ragneel
  • Krokenes, Magdalena (Haug)
  • Malmin, Gunnar
  • Nordström, Robert
  • Aamot, Sigurda Haug--Interviews (creator)
  • Julian, Lynn (Amot)

Corporate Names

  • Bergensfjord (Steamship)
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Leikaring Dancers (Tacoma, Wash.)

Family Names

  • Aamot family
  • Amot family
  • Drogheda family
  • Haug family
  • Nordstrom family

Geographical Names

  • Osøyro (Norway)
  • Samnanger (Norway)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Domestics
  • Janitors
  • Restaurants -- Employees

Titles within the Collection

  • New Land New Lives.