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Overview of the Collection

Garberg, Brynhild Kjøsnes
1984 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Brynhild Kjøsnes Garberg, a Norwegian immigrant.
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

Brynhild Kjøsnes Garberg was born on March 30, 1894 in Selbu, Norway, a small community in Trøndelag outside of Trondheim. She was one of four children by Ole Kjøsnes and Sissel Kulseth. Her family immigrated to America in 1907 two years after her brother, John immigrated. Brynhild celebrated her 13th birthday aboard "The Baltic" on her way to America. Brynhild's family settled in LaCrosse, Washington. After settling, Brynhild attended school for one and a half years in Lacrosse. She was confirmed in the Selbu Lutheran Church at age fifteen. Brynhild married Peder Garberg on December 14, 1921. They lived with her family until they rented a farm. They have four children, Clara, Irwin, Sadie, and Phyllis. In 1962, the Garberg's moved to Spokane when owners of their farm sold it. She was around 40 years old when she received her citizenship.


Full Name: Brynhild Kjøsnes Garberg. Maiden Name: Brynhild Kjøsnes. Father: Ole Kjøsnes. Mother: Sissel Kulseth. Paternal Grandfather: John Kjøsnes. Brothers and Sisters: Ragnhild Kjøsnes, John Kjøsnes, Regine Kjøsnes. Spouse: Peder Garberg. Children: Clara Garberg, Irwin Garberg, Sadie Garberg Allen, Phyllis Garberg Maynor.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Brynhild Garberg on August 23, 1984 in Spokane, Washington. The interview contains information on her family, her family's trip to America, life in LaCrosse, Washington, her work on farms and married life. The interview was conducted in English with some Norwegian towards the end of the interview.

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 Janet Rasmussen 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 NorthwestTacoma, WashingtonUniversity of Washington Press1993

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
167, side 1 015: NAME
Brynhild Kjøsnes Garberg.
167, side 1 025: EARLY YEARS
Brynhild was born in Selbu, Norway. This is a small community in Trøndelag outside Trondheim. Her birthday is March 30, 1894.
167, side 1 025: PARENTS
Her parents were Ole Kjøsnes and Sissel Kulseth; both were born in Selbu. Her father worked for a lumber company marking lumber for people working in the forest. Brynhild's parents owned their own farm. The farm mostly produced hay. Ole and Sissel had four children, Ragnhild, John, Regine, and Brynhild. Her brother came to America two years before the rest of the family immigrated, because he followed his aunt when she was visiting Norway. Two years later Brynhild, her parents, and her two sisters left for America.
167, side 1 100: AUNT
The aunt was Brynhild's paternal aunt. She immigrated to America in 1901 and spent the first two years in Minnesota before she moved to LaCrosse in 1903. Her aunt's name was Beret, and she was married to Peter Wigen. They came early to the LaCrosse area, so there was hardly anyone in LaCrosse when Peter moved there.
167, side 1 139: FAMILY
When Brynhild's brother went to America, her father did not have any help at home, so her father quit farming and went to America as well. The family kept in touch with Brynhild's brother by writing letters, and he wrote back. Brynhild's grandfather came with the rest of the family. He was 80 years old when he left and he lived just a couple of years after they got to America. None of her family was back in Selbu after they left. Brynhild's paternal grandfather joined them on the trip; his name was John. Ole's mother died before they immigrated, so Brynhild's grandfather lived together with the rest of the family.
167, side 1 171: TRIP
Brynhild celebrated her 13th birthday on the way to America. She had never been outside Selbu before she left for America. Did not know the language, she started school without being able to understand the language. She, however, liked the idea of immigrating to America. Brynhild remembers that one of her neighbors died during the trip over the Atlantic and she was buried when they got to New York. That girl was around 20 years old and died from some illness. There were twenty-seven people from Selbu leaving at the same time and all of them went to LaCrosse. The group went to Oslo from Trondheim by boat and then on another boat from Oslo to New York via England. The name of the boat from Oslo to New York was "The Baltic." There were many immigrants on this boat. The family left Selbu on March 20, and arrived in LaCrosse on April 14. Brynhild did not have a cake when she celebrated her birthday at sea.
167, side 1 234: PAYING FOR THE TRIP
Her mother liked leaving Selbu, but Sissel's mother was still living in Selbu. Brynhild remembers saying good-bye to her grandmother. The family had saved money for the trip. Her father worked on other farms and they sold the farm, which had hay, cows, and cattle. Brynhild also worked on the farm helping to rake hay and she herded cattle in the forest as well.
167, side 1 254: SCHOOL IN NORWAY
Brynhild went to school in Norway. They had twelve weeks of school a year.
167, side 1 263: BROTHER AND SISTERS
John was about 18 when he came to America and started working for his aunt and uncle. Ragnhild also worked for the aunt and uncle when the family came to LaCrosse. Regine was two and a half years older than Brynhild, so Regine did not go to school in LaCrosse; she was through with school before she got here. The whole group that came to LaCrosse with Brynhild's family found jobs right away.
167, side 1 290: LIVING IN LACROSSE
The first house the family lived in was quite small. They bought the house from her uncle and it was close to the farm her uncle owned. The house had five rooms downstairs and three upstairs. It had a wood stove in the kitchen and a little pantry. The family got water through a windmill pump.
167, side 1 309: LIFE ON THE FARM
Brynhild feels that the temperature is higher in the area now than it was before. The family arrived in April and they stayed at her uncle's place for the summer. Brynhild played with his two twin girls. Her uncle had two older boys as well. Brynhild started the first grade in the fall but she could not understand anything. The Wigen girls knew both Norwegian and English so they taught Brynhild to speak English, and they explained to her what the teacher said. She attended school another one and a half years. However, she did not feel comfortable with the English language after this period.
167, side 1 330: NORWEGIAN LANGUAGE
The family spoke Norwegian at home. Brynhild's mother understood English, but she never spoke it. Her father had hunted with Englishmen in Norway, so he learned quite a bit on those trips.
167, side 1 337: TRIP TO LACROSSE
The family had food on the boat. They went through Ellis Island for immigration. After that was accomplished, they took a train from New York. Her grandfather was old and the family had to go with him, which meant that they lost touch with the rest of the group. However, when they got on the train they met the rest of the group again.
167, side 1 351: ARRIVAL IN LACROSSE
When the group arrived, all twenty-seven came together and received coffee and lunch from the editor of the "Clipper" a local newspaper in LaCrosse. The editor was not Norwegian.
167, side 1 364: CONFIRMATION
After attending school for one and a half years, she was confirmed at age fifteen. Brynhild was confirmed in LaCrosse in the Selbu Lutheran Church. The Norwegian Pastor, J.K. Lerohl who preached in Norwegian. She remembers that she received some cards for confirmation and a new set of clothes.
167, side 1 381: FARMING
Father liked farming in America, but it was hard work, especially during harvest. They came in April, so the harvest came quickly after they arrived. Her father mostly had wheat in his fields. Brynhild's uncle had a big farm and cattle as well. Brynhild did not know what she was going to do, so after confirmation she continued to stay at home and helped with the housework. The family stayed in LaCrosse, and did not travel much around. She never had a paid job; she worked at home her entire life.
167, side 1 405: HUSBAND
Brynhild and Peder were married on December 14, 1921. Her husband came from Norway. He worked on the farm as a hired man, while her brother John was called to service in World War I. Her brother was stationed in Germany and he was not wounded. After John returned from the war, he came back home to help with the farm.
167, side 1 434: MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN
They lived at Ole and Sissel's farm when they first married. Then they rented a farm. Brynhild and Peder have four children. Clara is the oldest and lives in Pennsylvania. Irwin, Sadie and Phyllis live in Spokane.
167, side 1 454: AFTER FARMING
They moved from LaCrosse to Spokane in 1962. The people who owned the farm sold it, so Brynhild and Peder had to move. They bought a house in Spokane and moved there.
167, side 1 462: VISITING NORWAY
Brynhild and Peder were in Norway once, in 1964. She did not see many differences and she recognized places from before she left.
167, side 1 469: CONTACT WITH NORWAY
She does not receive many letters from Norway. She used to get some letters from cousins in Norway but they have died now.
They serve "rømmegrøt" (cream porridge) and lefse. The children know some Norwegian language; they can understand it, but cannot speak it.
167, side 1 484: NORWEGIAN LANGUAGE
She has not used the Norwegian language much. She is still able to speak a few sentences. (This passage is spoken in Norwegian).
167, side 1 489: CITIZENSHIP PAPERS
Brynhild received citizen papers after a test in Colfax. She was still living in LaCrosse at the time and she was around 40 years old when she got her citizenship. Husband received his papers first, so she went Colfax by herself.
167, side 1 502: LACROSSE
LaCrosse was Norwegian. Many Norwegians lived in the area. The church was Norwegian. Some Swedish and Danish families lived in the area as well.
167, side 1 515: PARENTS VISIT
Parents went back to Norway for a visit after spending 10 years in America.
167, side 1 520: BROTHER AND SISTERS
All her siblings settled in LaCrosse. All three married and had their own farm.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Confirmation
  • Education -- LaCrosse, Wash.
  • Education--Norway
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Marriage service
  • Naturalization
  • Norway -- Social conditions -- 1945-
  • Norwegian language
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel
  • Railroad travel
  • Personal Names :
  • Garberg, Brynhild Kjøsnes--Interviews (creator)
  • Allen, Sadie Garberg
  • Garberg, Peder
  • Maynor, Phyllis Garberg
  • Wigen, Beret
  • Wigen, Peter
  • Garberg, Clara
  • Garberg, Irwin
  • Kjøsnes, John
  • Kjøsnes, Ole
  • Kulseth, Sissel
  • Corporate Names :
  • Baltic (Steamship)
  • Selbu Lutheran Church (LaCrosse, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Allen family
  • Garberg family
  • Kjøsnes family
  • Kulseth family
  • Maynor family
  • Wigen family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Colfax (Wash.)
  • LaCrosse (Wash.)
  • Selbu (Norway)
  • Spokane (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Farmers