Guide to the Olaf Torgersen Collection, 1907-1957

Special Collections & Archives

Oviatt Library

California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330
Phone: (818) 677-2832
Fax: (818) 677-2589
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Overview of the Collection

Collection Title: Olaf Torgersen Collection
Dates: 1907-1957
Identification: OCH/OTC
Creator: Torgersen, Olaf
Physical Description: 0.23 linear feet
Language of Materials:






Repository: Old China Hands Archives
Abstract: Olaf Torgersen was born in 1885 in Larvik, Norway. He left Norway in 1914 to work as a sea captain in China and Hong Kong, where he captained a number of ships until returning to Oslo, Norway, with his wife in 1951. The collection contains the personal and professional papers of Torgensen, including identification cards and passports, his master's certificates and records related to his service on various ships, and personal correspondence, ephemera, and articles.

Biographical Information:

Olaf Torgersen was born in 1885 in Larvik, Norway. He left Norway in 1914 to work as a sea captain in China, where he captained a number of ships to various destinations around Southeast Asia. He also met and married Mary Fischer while in China, who had four children from a previous marriage, including Elsa Shelton Miller. On December 8, 1941, his ship was captured by the Japanese Naval Forces in the waters near Shanghai. He was imprisoned for a month in Shanghai before being sent to Sasebo, Japan, for questioning. He was eventually released in June of 1942, but did not find work again for 3 and a half years. In 1951, he and his wife returned to Norway and settled in Lillehammer.

Access Terms

This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Genre/Form of Material:

Paper records
Photographic material

Administrative Information

Processing Information:

Jessica Geiser, 2013

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is open for research use.

Preferred Citation:

For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

Related Materials:

Arrangement of Materials:

Series I: Identification Documents, 1914-1952
Series II: Career Records, 1907-1950
Series III: Personal Materials, 1927-1957

Scope and Contents

The Olaf Torgersen Collection consists of personal and professional documents related to Torgersen's life as a sea captain in China and Hong Kong. The collection is divided into three series: Identification Documents (1914-1952), Career Records (1907-1950), and Personal Materials (1927-1957).
Series I, Identification Documents, consists of various vital records belonging to Torgersen, including his baptismal certificate, two Norwegian passports, a Chinese sailor's identification booklet, an official Chinese identification card, a medical information card and a business card.
Series II, Career Records, contains records relating to Torgersen's work as a sea captain. Items in the series include letters verifying Torgersen's service on a number of ships, master's certifications from Norway, China, and Panama allowing Torgersen to captain vessels, statistics taken regarding a shipping route from Shanghai to Keelung, and a statement written by Torgersen seeking damages for losses suffered by him during World War II.
Series III, Personal Materials, contains miscellaneous correspondence, ephemera and documents related to Torgersen's life in China and Hong Kong. Items in the series include membership cards, receipts, newspaper articles, correspondence about loan assistance, a ticket to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and a postcard sent to Torgersen in Norway in the 1950s.

Collection Contents


Series I: Identification Documents, 1914-1952

Box 1, Folder 1

Baptismal Certificate, 1923 May 23

Box 1, Folder 2

Norwegian Passport, 1931-1952

Box 1, Folder 3

Sailor Identification Booklet, 1947

Box 1, Folder 4

Identification, Medical Assistance, and Business Cards, 1950

Flat File Cabinet 1, Item 1

Norwegian Passport, 1914-1915


Series II: Career Records, 1907-1950

Box 1, Folder 5

Service Records, 1907-1947

Box 1, Folder 6

Norwegian Sea Captain's Certificate, 1917

Box 1, Folder 7

Panamanian Sea Captain's Certificates, 1937, 1950

Box 1, Folder 8

Statement Seeking Compensation for Damages Suffered as a Prisoner of the Japanese During World War II, 1946 July 31

Box 1, Folder 9

Shanghai-Keelung-Kana-Keelung Route Information

Flat File Cabinet 1, Item 2

Chinese Sea Captain's Certificate, 1947


Series III: Personal Materials, 1927-1957

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 1

Lodge Cosmopolitan No. 428 Life Member's Card, 1927 July 15

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 2

Receipt for Binoculars from Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, 1947 May 24

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 3

Newspaper Article on Captain A.A. Warild, ca. 1949

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 4

Loan Assistance Letter from Norwegian Consulate, 1951 April 2

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 5

Receipt for Two Plane Tickets from Hong Kong to Oslo, August 1951

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 6

Ticket to a Hong Kong Jockey Club Event, October 1951

Box 1, Folder 10, Item 7

Postcard to Olaf Torgersen from Harald Odberg, December 1957