DeRosa (Bergliot Moxness Oliver) Oral History Interview, 1981

Overview of the Collection

DeRosa, Bergliot (Bella) Moxness Oliver
DeRosa (Bergliot Moxness Oliver) Oral History Interview
1981 (inclusive)
4 file folders
4 photographs
2 sound cassettes
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Bergliot (Bella) Moxness Oliver DeRosa, 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

Bergliot DeRosa was born on August 11, 1902 in Trondheim, Norway to Olav Johannes Moxness and Sara Petrine Kristensen. Olav was a sea captain of the English Freighter and spent a great deal of time away from the family. In 1918, en route to Australia, the boat he was on disappeared and was never heard of again. In addition to Bergliot, there were five other children in the Moxness family: Gunvor, Ruth, Johan, Sara, and Olav. Bergliot had a very active childhood, which including a lot of skiing and hiking. She was confirmed in the Cathedral in Trondheim and was then sent to Humerskole for four years to learn how to bake, cook, and care for children. In 1914, Bergliot's sister Gunvor immigrated to Tacoma, Washington, and Bergliot joined her in 1922. Eventually, the entire family came.

When Bergliot arrived in Tacoma, she already had a housekeeping job, which paid $50 a month. Following that job, Bergliot worked for Everybody's Candy Factory and then as a housekeeper for Dr. Whitaker. In addition to work, Bergliot also went to school to become a citizen and learn the English language, which did not take her very long.

Bergliot met her first husband, Fremont Oliver, at Point Defiance. Fremont owned the Oliver Tire Company in Tacoma, and he and Bergliot were married at a local Lutheran Church. They had three children: Ruth (Jones), Rosemary (Duncan), and Fremont. After being sick for two years, Fremont Sr. died in 1946. Bergliot was later remarried to Frank DeRosa, the supervisor for the Tacoma Water Department. Bergliot continued working, cooking in the kitchen at Pacific Lutheran University for one year and then caring for Mrs. Hawkins, the bedridden wife of an attorney at the Country Club. Bergliot was very active in the Daughters of Norway, serving as a Marshall for many years, and was also active in the 17th of May celebration and Leif Erikson committee.

She is still fluent in Norwegian and has given many lectures on Norway to various groups. Bergliot has returned to Norway twice, once shortly after Fremont died and once in 1969. In Bergliot's opinion, so much has changed in Norway that it no longer feels like her home. Nevertheless, she claims she is "just as much Norwegian as when she left Norway."


Full Name: Bergliot Moxness Oliver DeRosa. Maiden Name: Bergliot Moxness. Father: Olav Johannes Moxness. Mother: Sara Petrine Kristensen. Paternal Grandfather: Johan Wedege Pettersen Moxness. Paternal Grandmother: Olive Røskaft. Maternal Grandfather: Nils Kristensen. Maternal Grandmother: Gunhild Wiklun Kristensen. Brothers and Sisters: Gunvor Moxness, Bronow Ruth Moxness, Johan W. Moxness, Sara Moxness Vanderbilt, Olav Moxness. Spouse: Fremont Oliver, Frank DeRosa. Children: Ruth Nadin Jones, Rosemary Duncan, Fremont Ashley Oliver

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Bergliot DeRosa on October 22, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. It contains information about family background, emigration, work, marriage and family life, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also contains a copy of a photograph taken at Bergliot's mother's aunt's wedding, a photograph of the DeRosa family, a postcard of Trondheim, and two photographs of Bergliot at the time of the interview and a copy of her certificate of vaccination. The interview was conducted in English with some Norwegian towards the end of the interview. Also see Sara Vanderbilt, T115.

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

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
102, side 1 004: PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Married twice, widowed once. She describes the Moxness name origin. Born in Melhus, Norway near Trondheim on August 11, 1902.
102, side 1 028: FATHER
He was a sea captain. He could be gone for year at a time. He sailed all over the world.
102, side 1 033: CHILDHOOD
Born out in the country. She was a "fair" delicate baby. Talks about being a baby.
102, side 1 047:
Moved to town, Trondheim, Norway.
102, side 1 050: PARENTS
Father was a sea captain of the English Freighter. His name was Olav Moxness. Mother, Sara Kristensen Moxness. She was born in Sortland.
102, side 1 061: GRANDPARENTS
Paternal grandfather, Oline Røskaft. Paternal grandfather worked with the schools. Worked at Bispehaugen school outside of Trondheim.
102, side 1 080: SCHOOL
Went to school at Bispehaugen for the first three years. She describes the school.
102, side 1 095:
Grandfather died and then she moved up by the university in Trondheim, Norges Teknisk Høyskole. They lived at a place called Tingvalla.
All very old. Made dolls. Very interesting people. Mother's grandmother, Sara Wiklun had a saloon in Trondheim. It was also a grocery and bakery.
102, side 1 125:
Mother's grandmother had an annual sale of her wares. She went by boat to Stokmarkness. She was 80 the last time she went.
Nils Kristensen. He had a store. Fisherman bought wares for the store. She describes some family history.
102, side 1 150:
Parents married and had six children.
102, side 1 151: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Gunvor Moxness Bronow. Johan Moxness worked for the county in Seattle. Ruth Moxness died of the Spanish flu. Sara Moxness Vanderbilt married a Dutchman. Olav Moxness died, he worked for a lumber company in Oregon.
102, side 1 175: CHILDHOOD
"Lived it up." Skied all the time. Lost 30 pounds every winter by skiing.
102, side 1 195: SUMMER
Hiking. Walked several miles. WINTER: Taxied students down in sled for 5 cent.
102, side 1 206: HOUSE
Had a big house. Wooden apartment. Had a caretaker. Well build house. Didn't do much work at home.
102, side 1 231: EDUCATION
Another lady taught her to bake, cook, and care for children. Daughters were often sent to Husmorskole in Norway to learn domestic work. She worked for four years for this lady and enjoyed it.
102, side 1 263: 1914
Sister Gunvor was a midwife and entertained new immigrants in her home in Tacoma, Washington where she was for ten years before returning to Norway.
102, side 1 275: FATHER
Was in New York in 1918 waiting to get a new boat. He headed for Australia on the boat but it disappeared and was never seen or heard of again.
102, side 1 294: CHRISTMAS
Always had relatives over. Had handmade gifts. Sang around the tree. Christmas parties.
102, side 1 317: CHRISTMAS
Could wear patent leather shoes on Christmas. Really dressed up. Father bought most of the clothes in England. "Treated like a princess."
102, side 1 333: CHURCH
Had to go to Sunday school. Didn't go to church service. It was too deep. Learned religion in school also. Walked three miles to Sunday school.
102, side 1 366:
Confirmed in the cathedral in Trondheim.
102, side 1 369: CHRISTMAS EVE
Had service at home. Just the family. Ate spareribs and bakery stuff. Mother hired someone to make lefse. Describes making this. Bought many things in town.
102, side 1 409: MOTHER
She was a very smart woman. Talks about ways her mother had of dealing with children. Great respect for her. Good disciplinarian.
102, side 1 441: CHRISTMAS EVE
Relatives over. Had rump roast. Describes how this is made. Also had tyttebaer and fattigmanns.
102, side 1 459: TROLLS
She didn't hear stories. Nordland had many stories.
102, side 1 469: STORY
Tells a true story about her uncle's cows and smaakarer "little men."
102, side 1 487:
Talks about running into a weasel.
102, side 1 507:
Tells a story about the monkey her great-uncle had. She talks about this big farm and the fancy house with a ballroom and gym.
102, side 1 532: WAR
Her great-uncle had to leave the farm when the Germans came.
102, side 1 543: FAVORITE DESSERT
Gooseberry pudding. Many varieties of gooseberries in Norway. Also many blackberries, blueberries, and tyttebaer.
102, side 1 567: MARKET
There was a big market in Trondheim where they could buy cheese and many things.
102, side 1 578:
She describes the market in Trondheim today. Flowers and other things at the market.
102, side 1 604:
Took dancing lessons. Boys and Girls. Ballroom dancing. First movie she saw was "The Girl From Paris," this sticks strongly in her mind.
102, side 2 007: SISTER WENT TO THE U.S.
She stayed with an aunt in New York when she first came and then came to Tacoma, Washington.
102, side 2 016: EFFECTS OF WAR ON NORWAY
Father gone often.
102, side 2 020: FATHER
Talks of her father and his travels. One accident where he was severely burned.
102, side 2 028: WAR
1914 during the war was a hard year. Mother took in students as boarders. One boarder was a French noble. Food was hard to get during the war. Had butter made of whole fat. Worse in the city than the country.
102, side 2 055: WAR
Had ration coupons.
102, side 2 061: SPANISH FLU
Sister died of it. Many families wiped out.
102, side 2 070: TUBERCULOSIS
Was another common disease when she was young. She wasn't allowed in others homes because of TB. Parents were very strict.
102, side 2 102: USA
Came to the U.S. in 1922 because sister was in the U.S. Mother thought she could have it better in the U.S. The family all came within a few years of each other.
Nothing special other than missing the mountains more than anything. Left August 22, 1922.
102, side 2 128:
Brother had come over and bought a house for his mother in Tacoma, Washington.
102, side 2 132: TRAVEL
Took the train from Trondheim to Oslo. Took the boat, "Bergensfjord," It was a nice boat with music and dancing too.
102, side 2 150:
Tickets sent from Andrew Foss who was a friend of her sister in Tacoma. They wanted to adopt Bella because she reminded them of their daughter.
102, side 2 168: ELLIS ISLAND
Lined up like sheep. Looked at head and tongue. Didn't stay long.
102, side 2 174: TRAIN TRAVEL
Took a Union Pacific train. Switched trains in Chicago.
102, side 2 178: LANGUAGE PROBLEMS
Didn't speak much English. Had learned some. Both parents were fluent in English.
102, side 2 184: TRAIN TRIP
Interesting. Talks about ordering food on the train. People encouraging her to spend money.
102, side 2 206: STORY
A rich sheep owner who wanted to buy a Norwegian coin. He gave her a picture with 250,000 sheep on it for the coin.
102, side 2 231: WHITE SLAVERY
They threw pillowcases over girls' heads and kidnapped them.
She was met by the Fosses and her sister at the Union Station. She stood under the 15th Street Bridge and waited for them.
Leif Leifson, a pastor helped her get in touch with them.
102, side 2 263: WORK
Had a job when she arrived. Did housework. It was up on Prospect Hill. A very nice home.
102, side 2 292:
Worked for Dr. Whitaker doing housework.
102, side 2 297: SCHOOL
Went to school to become a citizen. Picked up the language very well.
102, side 2 311: HUSBAND
Met her first husband, Fremont Oliver who owned the Oliver Tire Co., in town. She'd met him at Point Defiance.
102, side 2 363: WEDDING
No formal wedding. Married by Olaf Holen at the Lutheran church in Tacoma.
102, side 2 386: MOTHER
Was here in 1925. Bella gave all her money to her mother. She made $50 a month at the first place she worked. Dr. Whitaker paid $35 a month.
102, side 2 436: WORK
Worked at Everybody's Candy Factory before working at Whitaker's. Worked with crackers. Talked about working here. Shined cans of cookies. Paid on a time basis. Worked in shipping.
102, side 2 482: HOME
Lived at 12th and Stevens in a new built house when first married. Many Norwegians in the area.
102, side 2 502:
Husband made $100 per month.
102, side 2 507: FAMILY
Daughter, Ruth Jones, works for the City of Tacoma
102, side 2 520:
Milton Nesvig, the pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran was a good friend of Bella's sister.
102, side 2 535: CHILDREN
All went to Jefferson school.
102, side 2 539:
Daughter, Rosemary is married to Kenneth Duncan who is a colonel in the Air Force.
102, side 2 551: GRANDCHILDREN
Ruth's daughter, Lynn Jones Moon is a dentist. She worked very hard for this.
102, side 2 569: SECOND DAUGHTER
She had one boy and two girls. The boy is in Virginia and the girls are in school in Dayton, Ohio.
102, side 2 590:
Problems in Ohio's economy now.
102, side 2 601: SON
Fremont Oliver works for Cable Craft. Went to Franklin High School. He was the football captain. He was in the service for 2-3 years. He went to the University of Puget Sound.
103, side 1 009: SON
Worked in Kansas. He married Francis Campbell from Wenatchee. They have four children.
103, side 1 019:
Moved to Richwood Ave, closer to the tire co. Husband died in 1946 after being sick for two years.
103, side 1 027: TRIPS BACK TO NORWAY
Went with Rosemary after husband died. Gorgeous trip.
103, side 1 040:
Had to return suddenly, might have had something to do with the war. Norway returned to normal quickly after the German Occupation.
103, side 1 061: UNDERGROUND
Her cousin was a captain in the underground. The family escaped to Sweden. His mother was taken hostage. Bella sent clothes, toys, and other things to Norway during the war.
103, side 1 078: SECOND HUSBAND
Frank DeRosa, supervisor for the Tacoma Water Department.
103, side 1 085:
Moved from Richmond Avenue to Parkland. Bella did the real estate transaction. The state took this house to put in the freeway.
103, side 1 113: WORK
Worked at Pacific Lutheran University in the kitchen for one year. There was another Norwegian cooking too. This was about 1954.
103, side 1 146: WORK
Took care of Mrs. Hawkins, the wife of an attorney at the country club. She was bedridden. Made about $125 a month.
103, side 1 182: DAUGHTERS OF NORWAY
Very active. Was the Marshall there for many years. Used to put on plays and did dancing years ago.
103, side 1 195: 17TH OF MAY CELEBRATION
Very active in this. Active in Leif Leifson committee.
103, side 1 210: CHURCH
Not real active. Children were active. Sunday school and confirmation.
She still practices the customs today. She gets things sent from Norway and puts them on display in various places.
103, side 1 248: TRIPS TO NORWAY
She went to Norway and Germany in 1969.
103, side 1 263: CHANGES
They built big apartments that cover everything up. Hide everything that is beautiful. Doesn't feel like home anymore.
103, side 1 285: CHANGES
People and children. Children don't respect elders. So many strangers coming in. Don't bake anymore. Everything bought and warmed.
103, side 1 319: LANGUAGE
Still speaks the language fluently. Oldest daughter can understand Norwegian.
103, side 1 329: GIRL SCOUTS
Bella was a leader. She made them all uniforms. Sang "Per Speleman" and danced.
103, side 1 338:
Bella sings "Per Speleman" very clearly.
103, side 1 348: HERITAGE
Just as much Norwegian as when she left Norway. Has done lots of lecturing on Norway to various groups.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Christmas
  • Confirmaton
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Norway--History--German occupation, 1940-1945
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Railroad travel
  • World War, 1914-1915

Personal Names

  • DeRosa, Bergliot--Interviews (creator)
  • DeRosa, Frank
  • Kristensen, Sara Petrine
  • Moxness, Olav Johannes
  • Oliver, Fremont

Corporate Names

  • Bergensfjord (Steamship)
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Ellis Island (N.J. and N.Y.)
  • Everybody's Candy Factory (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Oliver Tire Company (Tacoma, Wash.)

Family Names

  • DeRosa family
  • Kristensen family
  • Moxness family
  • Oliver family
  • Røskaft family

Geographical Names

  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Trondheim (Norway)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Domestics