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Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Paul C. Borge
Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Paul Borge was born in 1904 in Narvacan, a town in Northern Luzon, Philippines. His father was a farmer who earned just enough from fishing and raising rice, corn, and vegetables to support a family of eight. Two of Borge's cousins were studying for the Methodist ministry at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and for several years Borge pleaded with his father to let him go to the United States, too. The Borge family was devoutly Methodist, and finally his father agreed to let him go to the United States on the condition that he also study for the ministry. Borge's father sold a cow, a horse, and a piece of land to pay for the trip. Borge arrived in Seattle in 1926 and first worked at several jobs on the West Coast, including farm work with other Filipinos, and labor on the tracks for the Northern Pacific Railroad. In the spring of 1928 he arrived in Minneapolis on a railroad pass. He chose Minneapolis because his cousins had moved there, and because he hoped to enroll at the Northwestern Bible College to fulfill his promise to his father to study for the ministry. As the Depression deepened after his arrival, however, it became evident that he could never earn enough money to make the study possible, and he eventually abandoned the idea. In 1934 he married a Scandinavian American and became a permanent resident of Minnesota. During the 1930s Borge served as a butler in the home of Charles B. Sweatt, an executive of the Minneapolis Honeywell Company, and also in the home of Minneapolis businessman Cavour S. Langdon. In 1942 he got a job as a personal attendant in a railway car reserved for the president of the Great Northern Railroad, and he moved his family to northeast Minneapolis, where many Filipinos were moving in the early 1940s. After World War II the family moved to Columbia Heights, again consistent with a general trend among the Filipinos, many of whom were moving to the northern suburbs. Borge worked for the Great Northern until he retired in 1969. Throughout his many years in Minneapolis and the northern suburbs he had been active in Filipino community organizations, and since his retirement he has also been active in a number of church and civic groups, including the Community Methodist Church and the Kiwanis Club in Columbia Heights. In 1980 he was elected to the National Commission on Race and Religion of the United Methodist Church. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Paul Borge discusses his family background in the Philippines, the family's conversion to Protestantism, and the many stories he heard in childhood about the cruelty of Spanish rule in the Philippines. He also describes incidents of discrimination he experienced on the West Coast of the United States, the difficult economic struggle for young Filipinos in Minneapolis, and his work as butler in the Twin Cities homes of wealthy businessmen Charles B. Sweatt and Cavour S. Langdon. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Borge's experiences are typical of many young Filipinos seeking education in the Twin Cities in the late 1920s who had to take jobs as butlers in the homes of wealthy Minneapolis businessmen. His employment by the Great Northern Railroad in 1942 reflects a decision by the company to replace Japanese with Filipinos in service jobs on the trains because of anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
81 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:23:04 running time
Creation Narrator: Borge, Paul C.
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asians
Filipinos
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 10/27/1978
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
ID Number OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.25
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'