Alfred Julius Strom Oral History Interview, 1982

Overview of the Collection

Strom, Alfred Julius
Alfred Julius Strom Oral History Interview
1982 (inclusive)
3 file folders
3 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Alfred Julius Strom, 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

Alfred Strom was born on May 8, 1896, in Bjørnør, Norway, to Johan and Ingeborg Strom. In addition to Alfred, there were five other children in the family: Ole, Ingvald, Anna, Beret, and John. The family had a small farm and also did some fishing. Alfred's father died when Alfred was five years old, and ten years later Ingeborg also passed away. Having finished school and confirmation, Alfred went to work at his neighbor's farm, and all of his siblings immigrated to America. Alfred continued to farm until he was eighteen and then received a ticket to America from his brother John. From New York, Alfred took the train to his sister's house in Duluth, MN. Ole and John also lived in Duluth, where Ole was a streetcar conductor and John worked for a blacksmith. When Alfred arrived, jobs were hard to come by, but he eventually found work with the railroad in Superior, WI. He later became a helper in the foundry in Duluth. Around 1917, Alfred decided to go to Washington, where Ingvald had been living. In Tacoma, WA, he and Ingvald signed up to work at a packing company in Alaska and spent the next nine months in Prince William Sound, AK. On the way home, Alfred contracted a bad case of the flu and had to stay in St. Hans Hospital in Juneau, AK, for seven weeks. Ingvald, also sick, passed away. Alfred returned to Tacoma the week before Christmas and stayed there until he was strong enough to return to Duluth. When he finally returned to Duluth, he began working in a blacksmith shop and also went back to work in Alaska three or four more times. In 1922, Alfred and Ole Nerheim bought a restaurant in Tacoma, which Ole alone eventually took over. Alfred then returned to Duluth and the blacksmith shop. On this trip back, he met his wife, Anne Olsen, who was also from Bjørnør, Norway. They had two children, Ingvald and Ruth. They eventually settled in Tacoma, where Alfred worked for Dickman Lumber Co. for almost fifty years. Alfred is a member of the Sons of Norway, but attended more in Duluth than in Tacoma, and he has also made one trip back to Norway. According to Alfred, not much had changed.


Full Name: Alfred Julius Strom. Father: Johan Strom. Mother: Ingeborg Olsen Strom. Brothers and Sisters: Ole Strom, Ingvald Strom, Anna Strom, Beret Strom, John Strom. Spouse: Anne Kristine Olsen Strom. Children: Ingvald Kenneth Strom, Ruth Irene Strom.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Alfred Strom on April 6, 1982, in Tacoma, Washington. It provides information on family background, emigration, employment, marriage, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also contains a photograph of Alfred at the First Annual Franklin Packing Co. picnic on Ellerington Island, Alaska (June 30, 1918), a photograph of Alfred and his wife Anne, and a photograph of Alfred at the time of the interview. Also see Anne Strom. 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 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
164, side 1 018: PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Name is Alfred Julius Strom. Born in Bjørnør, Norway. His wife was born in Stoksund, which is nearby. Born on May 8, 1896. He will soon be 86 years old.
164, side 1 : PARENTS
Johan and Ingeborg (Olsen). Father died when Alfred was five and his mother died when he was 15. Father was sort of a handyman.
164, side 1 130: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Ingvald liked to fish and worked as a blacksmith in Minnesota. He came to the U.S. before 1905. Ole came to the U.S., too. He stayed with a blacksmith and worked in lumber mills in Minnesota, Wisconsin. Anna died fairly young. Was paralyzed and blind for three years. Bereth was in Duluth, Minnesota, where she was married to John Carlson. He worked in lumber. John is in Duluth, too. He is a retired blacksmith.
164, side 1 260: AFTER PARENTS DIED
Was 15 years old and had to get out and work for himself. His brother and Beret stayed home. John came but had to get back to the U.S. before he was inducted into the army. John took Beret and returned to Duluth.
164, side 1 288: CHURCH
Was a long way away. There was one church in the middle of the country. This included three areas: Osen, Roan, and Stokksund. The minister preached every third Sunday. Someone had to row him from one place to the next. This was around Brandsfjorden. It was hard to get to church.
164, side 1 337: SCHOOL
Had the biggest schoolhouse in the area. Went to school for about seven years until he was confirmed.
164, side 1 355: CONFIRMATION
Went to church every day for about five weeks. This is where he met his wife. It was a large class. This was in the largest church north of Trondheim. It was from the Catholic days. It was built of stone. Now there are many larger churches.
164, side 1 390: GRANDPARENTS
Never saw them.
164, side 1 400: FAMILY LIFE
They had a little farm and did some fishing. They always had fish to eat. They raised potatoes and hay. They had one cow and several sheep. They used the wool from the sheep to make their own clothes. Mother could spin and weave, as could all the other girls in the area.
164, side 1 480: CHRISTMAS
Had a tree and lots of baked goods (flatbrød). They always had meat for Christmas Eve. This was dried meat, which they soaked out and ate. They also ate risengrynsgrøt and lutefisk, but they didn't save it for special occasions. They didn't go to church because of the weather and because the fjord was so hard to cross. They stayed home on Christmas Day but after that they went out visiting.
164, side 1 565: ICE SKATING
There was a lake about a block from the house where everyone went skating.
164, side 1 575: WORK
Left home and went to one of his neighbors. He was a good worker and people wanted him to work for him. He did farm work. He could work at other places and come back to this farmer in between. There were no factories, only farm work.
164, side 1 625: FISHING
Went cod fishing one winter. After that he went to his aunt's because all of his brothers and sisters went to America. His aunt got the farm.
164, side 1 650: COMING TO AMERICA
Decided to come when he got his ticket. He came when he was 18 years old. All of his brothers and sisters were in America. John sent him the ticket. He hadn't told Alfred that he was going to send the ticket. This ticket was his invitation to go.
164, side 1 680: SHIP TRAVEL
Left Bergen on October 3, 1914, on the Bergensfjord. Fine trip. Wasn't sick. There were many young people on the ship. There was dancing, but he was afraid of girls then.
164, side 1 715: ELLIS ISLAND
Called it "Tårenes Øy (Isle of Tears). He was healthy and there was nothing to hold him back.
164, side 1 731: NEW YORK
Many thoughts running through his mind. Thought it was big in comparison to Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.
164, side 1 744: ELLIS ISLAND
They took you off the boat and put you on Ellis Island. When they took you off the island you went straight to the train. They did all the planning for you.
164, side 1 757: TRAIN TRAVEL
Didn't need to speak English. Had people on the train selling food. Language was no problem. He has seen people born here after 2-3 generations who couldn't speak English. Was all alone coming over. Went to his sister's in Duluth. He was taken off the train in west Duluth. His brothers, John and Ole, went up to the main depot but he had already gotten off. A man walked him to his brother, Ole's home. This was a man who worked with his brother, Ingvald, who was a streetcar conductor. His brothers were mad when they came home because they were worried about him. Ole's wife was at the house when he got to the house.
Looked no different than the rest of the country. There was snow and it was October. There wasn't any work.
164, side 1 850: DEPRESSION
When he came it was the beginning of the Depression. Those who had jobs were laid off. He boarded with John who was working in the blacksmith's shop in Duluth, Minnesota. John was one of the last men to be laid off from the blacksmith's shop. After he was laid off, the two brothers moved in with their sister.
164, side 1 877: WORK
Got a job with the railroad in Superior, Wisconsin. Wasn't much, got about 20 cents an hour. Lived with some other people who worked on the railroad.
164, side 1 893: NORWEGIAN COMMUNITY
"Was nothing but Norwegians there."
164, side 1 900: LAKE SUPERIOR
Started working on the lake during the spring on a ship. Got more money and room and board. He worked hard and did what they told him to. Left in the fall.
164, side 1 936: FOUNDRY WORK
This was in Duluth, Minnesota. He was a helper in the foundry.
164, side 1 853:
Brother came out from Washington. Brother had a fishing boat which he tied up in Neah Bay, Washington. This was wartime and they were of draft age. This was Ingvald. Alfred decided to go back to Washington with him. This was about 1917 when he came to Tacoma, Washington.
164, side 1 1000:
Had a lot of friends in Everett, Washington, so they went there. Then he went to Alaska. Ingvald went and sold his boat.
164, side 1 1040: ALASKA
Signed up down here and then the company took them to Alaska. This was Franklin Packing Co. Spent the next nine months in Prince William Sound, Alaska, fishing herring. Made $1,000 for the season.
164, side 1 1067: FLU
Got sick on the way home from Alaska. Stayed in Juneau, Alaska, in the St. Hans Hospital for seven weeks. Then he returned to Tacoma the week before Christmas. On Christmas Eve he shipped his brother who had died of the flu to Duluth, Minnesota, to be buried there.
164, side 1 1090:
Alfred stayed in Washington because he wasn't strong enough yet. He also had to straighten out everything after his brother's death.
164, side 1 1109: DULUTH
Returned to Duluth and started working in the blacksmith's shop. Alfred made several trips back and forth. Could just as well spend his money on travel as going out with the guys.
164, side 2 042:
Has been to Alaska 3-4 times. When he returned to Duluth he would work at the blacksmith's shop.
164, side 2 066: RESTAURANT
1922. They lost the boat in Alaska from fire. Three men survived in a skiff. The government took care of their transportation home since they were shipwrecked. Had a restaurant with Ole Nerheim (?) in Old Town (Tacoma), which they had leased out. Alfred likes cooking. They bought the restaurant. It was hard to make money at anything in those days. They charted 40 cents for short ribs, had coffee and 50 cents for roast pork. Went east after the boat was lost. His partner took over the restaurant.
164, side 2 217: DULUTH
Went back to work at the blacksmith's shop. Met his wife on this trip. She was with some neighbors who were good friends of theirs. They were married.
It was easy to find a job then. There was a lot of lumber industry.
164, side 2 259: WORK
Worked for Dickman Lumber Co. for almost 50 years. He was a millwright. Alfred was handy with tools. He retired when he was way over the age for retirement and they didn't want him to quit then.
164, side 2 295: ORGANIZATIONS
Goes to Sons of Norway sometimes. He joined in Duluth when he was a newcomer but he was out for a period of time. He was more active in Duluth because there were more newcomers there.
164, side 2 329: TRIPS TO NORWAY
Went back one year with his wife. There weren't too many changes. The family home is gone.
164, side 2 354: LANGUAGE
Says he hasn't learned the language yet. Didn't go to school. Just picked it up.
164, side 2 367: CITIZENSHIP
That was the only school he has been to here.
164, side 2 390: HERITAGE
Norwegians are just as good as anyone else.
164, side 2 403: SPOKEN NORWEGIAN
Says in Norwegian that he can speak Norwegian and that he hasn't forgotten anything yet.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Christmas
  • Confirmation
  • Depressions--1929
  • Education -- Norway
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Influenza
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel
  • Railroad travel

Personal Names

  • Nerheim, Ole
  • Strom, Anne Olsen
  • Strom, Alfred--Interviews (creator)
  • Strom, Ingeborg
  • Strom, Ingvald
  • Strom, Johan
  • Strom, Ruth

Corporate Names

  • Bergensfjord (Steamship)
  • Dickman Lumber Co. (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Ellis Island (N.J. and N.Y.)
  • Sons of Norway (U.S.) Norden Lodge No. 2 (Tacoma, Wash.)

Family Names

  • Olsen family
  • Strom family

Geographical Names

  • Alaska
  • Bjørnør (Norway)
  • Duluth (Minn.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Blacksmiths
  • Restaurateurs