Ellen Hoch Anderson Oral History Interview, 1982

Overview of the Collection

Anderson, Ellen Hoch
Ellen Hoch Anderson Oral History Interview
1982 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Ellen Hoch Anderson, a Danish immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington 98447
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

Ellen Andersen was born on December 16, 1906 in Fredericia, Denmark. Her parents were Frederik Johan Hoch and Henriette von Kaas, and there were four other children in the family: Svend, Wolfgang, Anna Margrethe, and Otto. Ellen's father was in the military for thirty-five years, and the family lived in various towns near the military bases. Ellen attended four years of grade school and five years of high school in Denmark, during which she took five years of English. This helped her a great deal when she immigrated to the United States at age eighteen. She settled in Seattle, WA and planned to stay for only two years so that she could practice her English and then obtain a good job back in Denmark. Ellen became employed as a housekeeper and participated in Danish Club and church. Her plans to return to Denmark were forgotten when she met her husband, A.V. (Aage) Andersen, at a Danish Club function. Aage was originally from Hornbaek, Denmark. They settled down in the Seattle area and had two children, Elsie and Carl. Through the years, Ellen has continued to be active in Danish organizations, and she and Aage have visited Denmark seven times. Ellen remains in contact with her relatives there and has maintained traditional Danish customs within her household; particularly those involved with the Christmas holiday.


Full Name: Ellen Hoch Andersen. Maiden Name: Ellen Hoch. Father: Frederik Johan Hoch. Mother: Henriette von Kaas. Paternal Grandfather: Johan Gottlieb Hoch. Paternal Grandmother: Johanne. Maternal Grandfather: Hans Wolfgang von Kaas. Maternal Grandmother: Minna. Brothers and Sisters: Svend Hoch, Wolfgang Hoch, Anna Margrethe Hoch, Hillers Otto Hoch. Spouse: Aage Valdemar Andersen. Children: Elsie Margrethe, Andersen Burdick, Carl Henry Andersen.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Ellen Andersen on April 1, 1982 in Poulsbo, Washington. It contains information on family background, schooling, emigration, employment, marriage, and Danish heritage. Also see A.V. (Aage) Andersen

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 Donna Mallonee 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
PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Ellen Hoch Andersen. Born in Fredericia, Denmark, which is in the southern part of Jylland (Jutland).
PARENTS: Frederik Hoch - was with the military for thirty-five years. Henriette van Kaas. Ellen has her mother's family papers back to the 1300's. She came from an aristocrat family. Her mother and sister traveled to different estates in the country. Ellen's grandfather married a common school teacher and therefore the family would have nothing to do with him.
Maternal grandfather had a big factory, which burned down before they got insurance, so they lost everything.
Paternal grandfather was in the military. Ellen's father was confirmed at age fourteen in a uniform. He was a horn blower in the military. He posed for statue in Copenhagen of the little horn blower.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS: Sven, Wolfgang Gottlieb, Anna Margrethe, and her youngest brother who lives in Spain. Hoch is a German name. Lived in towns, which were near the military bases. After her father retired they moved to a little town in northern Jutland which is where she left from when she emigrated in 1925. Her parents later return to Fredericia where all the children had been born.
CHRISTMAS FOODS: Red cabbage, pork roast, and Danish apple cake for dessert. Had a bowl of rice cooked in milk. The person who got the whole almond in their bowl of rice got a prize. This tradition is still maintained in the home.
EMIGRATION: Came to the US in 1925 at the age of 18.
SCHOOL: Finished school in Denmark. Went to four years of grade school and five years of high school. Had lots of homework. Had a schedule to follow. Went to school on Saturday. Had English five years, German four years, and Swedish one year. Graduated second in her class. Most went to high school. Took a test in fourth grade to determine if you went to high school. If you didn't pass the test you stayed seven-eight years in grade school. You finished when fourteen years. There were trade and technical schools, which some children went to. It was four years in any trade before you were finished. After high school you could go to into college and seminary.
Came to the US alone. She had an aunt and uncle in America who had been to Denmark visiting. They didn't have any children and they wanted Ellen. They offered $1,000 for her but Ellen's mother said she didn't sell her children. She said that Ellen could go to America when she was through with school and if she wanted to. Ellen looked at the trip as an adventure.
Ellen planned on staying in the US for two years to practice her English so that she could get a good job n Denmark. She met her husband and ended up staying.
FEELINGS LEAVING: She felt full of expectation and adventure. She was only planning to be gone for two years.
TRIP OVER: Left Copenhagen on a ship. Spoke with a few women who warned against white slavery.
LANDED IN NEW YORK: Took a train with another lady. Stopped in Salt Lake City, Utah. Stopped in the Midwest on a farm to visit some people this lady knew. Had just been a cyclone there. Then she came on to Seattle.
Have been in Seattle ever since she first came, except for the ten-eleven years when they had a motel in Moses Lake, Washington. She has always loved Seattle.
WORK: Did housework. Had Thursday afternoons off so they would (the Danish housekeepers) meet downtown. In the evening they had Danish Club. They also did folk dancing and singing in the church choir. Every year they put on an amateur stage play.
DANISH COMMUNITY: Danish church up on East Spruce, which had Danish services 1-2 times a month. Now the church is by Woodland Park and they only use Danish for a special Christmas service. There are still several Danish clubs (folk dancing and businessmen's clubs) in Seattle.
LANGUAGE: No difficulties, but a little shy in speaking English. Could read quite well. Stayed with a lawyer friend who had Danish clients. She helped him practice his Danish so that he could communicate with his clients.
WORK: Nice people that she worked for. She could read to cook the American recipes. One Jewish family treated her like dirt. She lived with the families that she worked for.
Met her husband at a Danish Club in Seattle. He was working his way around the world. His world trip ended in Seattle.
WEDDING: The ceremony was in the Danish Church. Had a few friends there. Had a little reception put on by some friends and the Danish Club had a little party for them. Kransekage is the typical Danish wedding cake. Had this cake for their Silver and Golden Wedding Anniversaries.
CHILDREN: Elsie and Carl. Elsie lives by Agate Pass, Washington. Carl lives in Twisp, Washington. Ellen has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Ellen didn't work after she was married. She helped a friend out once for six months who had a store.
Husband belongs to the Danish Brotherhood and the Sons of Norway. Belonged to the Danish club "Harmony" which used to be a dramatic club, but is now just a social club. Used to belong to the old Danish club "Måsen" (Seagull) when they first came to Seattle. They went to other towns with their plays - Tacoma, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia.
TRIPS BACK TO DENMARK: First time in 1946 they took their children. Went again in 1954. Have gone five times within the past twelve years. The people are happy in Denmark. Ellen still keeps in touch with relatives in Denmark.
DESCRIBING THE DANES: Humorous people, especially from the area that her husband came from. More serious-minded where Ellen comes from. The Danes are very friendly people.
The Andersen's took a tape of Danes in America with them when they went to visit people in Denmark. In 1954, they traveled through Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland.
HERITAGE: Proud to be a Dane. Often in the paper there were ads requesting Danish housekeepers. People knew that the Danes worked hard. Traditions maintained: Did more when they were young. Now they use Danish customs mostly at Christmas time.
HOLIDAYS: Midsummer - they have a special celebration. Fastelavn - like Halloween. Dress in costumes. This is in February. Harvest Festival did things in the church. Had people from Denmark to speak.
SPOKEN DANISH: Says a prayer similar to "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" in Danish.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Christmas
  • Danish-Americans--Interviews
  • Danish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Social life and customs
  • Education -- Denmark
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Marriage service
  • Women slaves

Personal Names

  • Andersen, A.V. (Aage)
  • Andersen, Carl
  • Hoch, Anna
  • Hoch, Frederik Johan
  • Hoch, Svend
  • Hoch, Wolfgang
  • Anderson, Ellen Hoch--Interviews (creator)
  • von Kaas, Henriette
  • Andersen, Elsie Margrethe
  • Hoch, Otto

Corporate Names

  • Danish Brotherhood in America. Lodge 29 (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Danish Club (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Danish Dramatic Club (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Sons of Norway (U.S.)Leif Erikson Lodge No. 1 (Seattle,Wash.)

Family Names

  • Andersen family
  • Hoch family
  • von Kaas family

Geographical Names

  • Fredericia (Denmark)
  • Hornbæk (Denmark)
  • Seattle (Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Domestics