Christine Slind Emerson Oral History Interview, 1982

Overview of the Collection

Emerson, Christine Slind
Christine Slind Emerson Oral History Interview
1982 (inclusive)
3 file folders
10 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Christine Slind Emerson , 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

Christine Slind Emerson was born on February 22, 1914 in Selbu, Norway. Her father owned a small dairy farm, and there were six children in the family. Christine's father had lived in Minnesota as a single man from 1904-1908, and married her mother in 1910 after returning to Norway. Christine's father thought that it would be easier to support a family of eight in America, and in 1922, the whole family emigrated. The family arrived in Lacrosse, Washington in June, and in September, they rented and moved to their own farm outside of the town. Lacrosse was a Selbu community, which made the transition easier for the family. In Lacrosse, Christine attended a one-room schoolhouse and quickly learned English with the help of a good teacher and her bilingual Norwegian-American cousins. Christine completed the eighth grade and planned on continuing on to high school, but her mother died when she was sixteen, and, being the oldest daughter, Christine had to stay home and take care of the family.

When she was twenty-one, Christine married John Emerson, who was also Norwegian and lived in the same community. The couple moved to Moscow, Idaho for three years and had two children there, Inez and Camille. They later moved to Dayton, Washington and lived on a rented farm there until 1970. Christine and John had two more children while living in Dayton, LaVerne and Lewis. In 1973, she and John traveled to Norway, and Christine found the Norwegian people to be very much like Americans. Although she did not join any Scandinavian organizations in America, she was an active member of the Selbu Church in Lacrosse, driving thirty miles from Dayton to attend.


Full Name: Christine Emerson. Maiden Name: Christine Slind. Father: Ole G. Slind. Mother: Ingeborg O. Klegseth Slind. Paternal Grandfather: Gunnar Slind. Paternal Grandmother: Kari Slind. Maternal Grandfather: Ole Klegseth. Maternal Grandmother: Johanna Klegseth. Brothers and Sisters: Gilbert Slind, Ole Slind, John Slind, Johanna Slind, Bjarne Slind. Spouse: Joe M. Emerson. Children: Inez Hughes, Camille Eliason, LaVerne Emerson, Lewis J. Emerson.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Christine Slind Emerson in Tacoma, Washington on November 22, 1982. It contains information on family background, emigration, school in America, the Selbu community, raising the family after her mother's death, marriage, return trip to Norway, and church activities. The interview also includes photographs of the Slind home in Norway, the Slind family passport picture, the Slind children in Lacrosse, Washington (1923), Christine and her husband Joe in Moscow, Idaho, Joe and their daughter Inez, Christine's children Camille and Vern, the Emerson family, and Christine at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English.

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
213, side 1 004: FAMILY BACKGROUND
Born Christine Slind on February 22, 1914 in Selbu, Soer Trondelag, Norway (about 35 km east of Trondheim).
213, side 1 024: PARENTS
Both parents, Ole Slind and Ingeborg Klegseth, were born in Selbu. Dad had a small dairy farm and worked in the timber in winter. On the farm they raised hay, about a dozen cows, goats, sheep, and chickens. The cream, butter, and a few eggs were sold. Her mother also raised a garden, made cheese, and had a spinning wheel.
213, side 1 073: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
All six children were born in Norway and came to America in 1922: Gilbert, Ole, the twins - John and Christine-, Johanne and Bjarne. Gilbert farms in eastern WA and has a dairy farm near Bow, WA. Ole is a doctor in Colfax, WA. Her twin brother John died at the age of 40. Johanne was a nurse but died young at 29. Bjarne is an engineer at Boeing. Mother died in 1930, eight years after emigrating. It was up to Christine, 16 years old, to take care of the family.
213, side 1 118: GRANDPARENTS
The maternal grandparents were Johanne and Ole Klegseth; the paternal were Katti (?) and Gunder Slind. Both sets of grandparents were born and raised on small farms in Selbu. Christine spent summers with Grandma Slind; it was a chance for her to visit, stay overnight, and help her grandmother with shopping.
213, side 1 164: FAMILY NAME
Both Klegseth and Slind are place-names; when you bought a place in Norway, you took its name. Gunder had originally purchased the Slind place, and when Christine's dad bought it from him, their family name changed from Kjoesnes (another place-name) to Slind.
213, side 1 194: SCHOOL
Christine had one year of school in Norway.
213, side 1 200: EMIGRATION
Dad had been to Minnesota from 1904-1908 as a single man; he returned to Norway and married mother in 1910. He decided to emigrate permanently with the whole family because he thought it would be easier to make a living for eight people in America.
213, side 1 229: PREPARATION
It was quite a job to move the family. The children received new clothes and got to wear and parade around in them in advance at the 17th of May celebration. Christine remembers the other children's comments: "Look at them. They're going to America." Mom brought along some china and a few knick-knacks. Someone had told Dad that only the youngest and oldest children needed to be vaccinated. When they arrived in Oslo and tried to board the boat, the Stavangerfjord, a special taxi was procured, and the remaining four children were sent to the doctor's to be vaccinated while the boat waited for them.
213, side 1 272: THE TRIP OVER
The vaccination made Christine feel sick. She and her dad were also seasick. Christine can't remember if her mom was seasick; even if she was, she still took care of the family on the seven day crossing.
213, side 1 288:
After a while on deck in the fresh air, Christine felt much better. She and her sister toured up and down the boat, having a good time. This adventure ended abruptly and in a frightening manner when a sailor told them that they "had no business down in there" and they'd be "thrown overboard if caught down there again".
213, side 1 310:
There was entertainment on the boat and the food was good. Because fresh fruit was a rarity in Norway, Christine especially remembers that either an apple or an orange was served on the dinner plate daily. They ate next to a man who kindly gave his fruit to Christine and Johanne.
213, side 1 325:
In New York a man tried to sell them bananas, but Dad said no. The kids didn't care because they didn't know what a banana was. On the three day train trip west, another fellow came selling ice cream cones. This they were allowed, because Dad thought they should try ice cream.
213, side 1 351:
Arrival in Lacrosse, WA. It was June when they arrived in eastern WA at Lacrosse (about 40 miles west of Pullman) - very dusty, dirty, and hot. Christine felt sorry for her mother: being lonely, not having her own home, and such a dirty, dry place - so different from Norway. In September they rented and moved to their own farm outside of Lacrosse. These were hard times - there was no money. But, each year got better
213, side 1 370: SETTLING IN AND SCHOOL
In a brightened tone, Christine comments about school in America: "That was quite interesting!" The five oldest children walked to a nearby one-room country schoolhouse. The teacher (woman) was real good and very understanding of the immigrant children. During reading, she alternately pointed at words and objects. It didn't take long to learn the language. Christine wrote down unknown English words which she had a bilingual Norwegian-American cousin explain to her; she learned a lot of words this way. Mother picked up English quickly from the children. Lacrosse was quite Norwegian, and both languages were used in the town school. But their rural neighborhood was basically German, so the children had to learn English and learn it fast - even got rid of the brogue.
213, side 1 428:
The children received good knowledge on the US government when they drilled their father on his studies for citizenship. Although all learned these lessons, the father took out citizenship for the whole family three-four years after emigration.
213, side 1 438:
Their neighbors were generally understanding and enlightened folks. The school children did not make fun of the Slind children. Christine retains friendships with these schoolmates, and they tell her now that that (the first year of school) was the most enjoyable year. They also admitted that they didn't dare make fun of the Slind's, because "if our folks would have found that out, we would have got it".
213, side 1 452: TRADITIONS IN NORWAY
Christine remembers very little about Christmas. They had a tree decorated by the parents which the children weren't allowed to see until Christmas eve. The presents were mostly clothes, some sewn or knit by mother and some sewn by a seamstress who helped mother with this job. Special holiday foods included lutefisk, flatbread, rice pudding, roemmegroet, and a thin lefse served with a cream and butter filling. She doesn't remember about church on Christmas Day. There is a nice big church in Selbu, but it seems like the parents went more so than the children.
213, side 1 527: IN LACROSSE
Lacrosse was a Selbu settlement - very Norwegian; the church was subsequently called the Selbu Church. (Somebody is supposedly writing a history about the community and its Norwegian ethnicity.) Three groups emigrated from Selbu: one in 1908-9, one in 1922, and a third later on. Mother's brother, Joergen Klegseth, came with Christine's group. He was a farmer in eastern Washington until he died in 1941. He married Dad's niece who had also emigrated from Norway; she now lives in Colorado. This type of community made life easier for her parents but Christine thought her mother was still lonely.
213, side 1 558:
Mother's death - Christine's life. At 41, her mother had surgery and passed away. Christine, 16 years old, had just finished eighth grade and was planning on high school. But Dad needed someone to stay home; as Christine was the oldest girl, she did that instead of continuing with school. This turn in her life was hard on Christine; she not only lost her mother, but her chance for schooling. The other children continued on, one becoming a nurse, another a doctor. She feels like she would liked to have done something besides being a housewife and mother. Her opportunity came only when both families were raised and "we retired. But then, what to start in with? What do you do?"
213, side 1 588:
Home on the farm. They had a big farm and there was a lot of work. She cooked three big meals a day on a cook stove for the seven family members plus hired men. There was bread to be baked, canning in the summer, and laundry all the time. Dad helped as much as he could. He was a strict father and wanted things done well. He remarried one year after Christine married, but during that year, she worked in her own home and helped at her dad's also. It was a big job for a 16-year- old girl. Even when the boys finished high school and were in college at WSU, she continued to do things for them. "There was a lot to do. You just didn't feel like a young girl; you felt older. It was just work - - after Mother died." Things are different for 16-17 year old girls now, and she's glad; they shouldn't have to work that hard. She always told her husband that if something happened to her, she didn't want him to keep her daughters home. It isn't fair. Times were different in those days.
213, side 1 659: MEETING SPOUSE
Joe Emerson lived in the same community, attended the same church, and worked for her dad some. His folks were Norwegian, his grandfather, Jens Wiggen (?), having emigrated from Norway to Lacrosse.
213, side 1 678:
They were married when she was 21. It was a home wedding - just themselves - and she wore a long, blue dress. After a short trip to Lewiston, Idaho they moved in with and helped her father on the farm. Later that year they moved to Moscow, Idaho where they lived on and farmed a rented place. Although Dad remarried within the first year, both Christine and her sister came back to help him and John during harvest.
213, side 1 702:
After three years and two children in Moscow, Christine and Joe moved to Dayton, Washington - about 20 miles northeast of Walla Walla. They lived on a rented farm there until 1970.
213, side 1 709: CHILDREN
They have four children: Inez, Camille, Vern, and Lewis J. (L.J.). Inez is a media technician at Pasco Community College, married, and has three children. Camille is married with two children and works at PLU. Vern farms the rented home place in Dayton. Lewis is with the Spokane school system. Upon retirement 12 years ago, Joe and Christine moved to Tacoma. She always worked at home and thinks it might have been interesting to work outside the home.
213, side 1 744: RETURN TRIP TO NORWAY
In 1973, she and her husband flew from Seattle to Oslo and Trondheim, Norway. She saw uncles and cousins she hadn't seen for 51 years; but they recognized each other from pictures. Her old home had been torn down and replaced with a new house. Their homebase was a cousin's home in Selbu while they traveled around to Stjoerdal and visited relatives for two weeks.
213, side 2 049:
The Selbu dialect has changed during these years. If it's spoken slowly, she understands it but doesn't think it's as pretty as the old Selbu language. Norway is more modern now. The people are nice, their places clean, and there are bathrooms. Distances seem much closer to her in Norway than when she lived there as a child or compared with the US.
213, side 2 092:
Christine found the Norwegian people to be very much like Americans - maybe more modern. They respected their churches, but it seemed like no one went to church. But she really has no point of reference for comparison, because as a child she wasn't taken to church except for a special occasion like baptism.
213, side 2 161:
Christine feels like the Norwegians have done well, but there were more advantages in America and that's why her family moved. Her siblings and children have all amounted to something.
Christine was not active in any Scandinavian group. After moving to Dayton they joined the Selbu Church in Lacrosse. It was worth the 30-mile drive because they felt like that was their church. The children were confirmed there, and she was active on church committees and held many offices in the ALCW.
213, side 2 226:
She learned to drive a car from her dad; it was a necessary skill in that country because of distances and work responsibilities.
213, side 2 247:
Speaking in Norwegian. Christine says a table prayer "I Jesu navn....".

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Education--LaCrosse (Wash.)
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family farms--Norway
  • Family--Norway
  • Norway--Social conditions--1945-
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel

Personal Names

  • Emerson, Christine--Interviews (creator)
  • Emerson, Joe M.
  • Emerson, LaVerne
  • Emerson, Lewis
  • Hughes, Inez
  • Slind, Gunnar
  • Slind, Kari
  • Eliason, Camille
  • Klegseth, Johanna
  • Klegseth, Ole
  • Slind, Ingeborg O. Klegseth
  • Slind, Ole G.

Corporate Names

  • Selbu Lutheran Church (LaCrosse, Wash.)
  • Stavangerfjord (Steamship)

Family Names

  • Eliason family
  • Emerson family
  • Kjøsnes family
  • Klegseth family
  • Slind family

Geographical Names

  • Dayton (Wash.)
  • Lacrosse (Wash.)
  • Moscow (Idaho)
  • Selbu (Norway)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Farmers