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Book Review: Suomen siirtolaisuuden ja maassamuuton bibliografia - A Bibliography on Finnish Emigration and Internal Migration

Keijo Virtanen

Olavi Koivukangas and Simo Toivonen. Suomen siirtolaisuuden ja maassamuuton bibliografia - A Bibliography on Finnish Emigration and Internal Migration. Siirtolaisuusinstituutti / Migration Institute: Turku, 1978, Pp. 226. 50 FMK.

The systematic study of the history of Finnish emigration has been under way for more than a decade. Several universities and research institutions have shown growing interest in Finnish immigrants. The most important center in Finland is the Institute of General History (since 1975, the Institute of History) at Turku University. It has worked closely with American and Canadian centers, especially the Immigration History Research Center (University of Minnesota), Michigan Historical Collections/ Bentley Historical Library (University of Michigan), Suomi College (Hancock, Michigan), Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario) and the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (Toronto).

In Turku there is also another institution, the Migration Institute, which aims its activities to the the coordination of conferences and publications on migration studies. Recently it has started to do independent research as well, especially in the field of emigration from Finland to Sweden and on internal migration.

The Migration Institute published a bibliography in 1978 which attempts to chronicle printed material on Finnish migration (scholarly works, periodicals and newspapers, primarily). Migration inside Finland is included. The content of the bibliography is arranged according to destination areas: Sweden, other Nordic countries, Russia, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Return migration and some movements into Finland have their own sections.

The table of contents indicates that to create a comprehensive bibliography is a difficult and requiring task, indeed. Material on Finns in the United States, published both in Finland and North America, is extensive. It is no wonder, therefore, that the authors of the bibliography say their work "is imperfect in many respects". The fact that the authors in their preface aim for scholarly use demands high requirements of their work. There can be no doubt that this kind of bibliography is useful for scholars and students of migration studies, and it is good that the relevant information is both in Finnish and English.

On the other hand one cannot help commenting on certain imperfections, inconsistencies and indecisions. The distribution of publications to particular sections is not relevant in many cases. For example, in the section on General Works, there are all kinds of reports and studies which deal with quite specific questions. One of Reino Kero's articles (Suomen kuvernöörien siirtolaisraportit vv. 1873-1874) is in this section, while his general work Suuren lännen suomalaiset is in the section dealing with the United States.

The authors have used no systematic criteria when they have inserted some works on ethnic groups other than Finns. It would have been better to exclude them completely, or to follow a logical system of incluson. Kristian Hvidt's study on the Danes in America, for example, is included, while Ingrid Semmingsen's volume on the Norwegians is missing. An article on return migration by Lars-Göran Tedebrand is listed in the section on General Works. It should be in the section on Repatriated Emigrants. After publishing this article, Tedebrand has written more comprehensive articles on re-migration, but they are not mentioned in the bibliography. Similar imperfections can be found elsewhere.

An index of authors is a good idea in any bibliography. The one included here, however, has been drawn up carelessly. Many writers are missing even though they appear in the text in several different places. Therefore it is best for the user of the bibliography to go through the whole volume because he can find publications in various sections where they do not seem to belong.

At the beginning of the volume is a survey of source materials on migration studies (archives, manuscripts, and statistics, mostly). Such a survey, is certainly useful for students, but this one is far too general for scholars.

In principle the bibliography is a positive effort even though there is room for improvement. The new edition which the compilers have promised to undertake will be necessary to correct the shortcomings of the present edition and to make it more complete. That is why, of course, scholars of migration and the bibliographers should be in contact to share data on new publications. The new edition will be necessary also because the study of Finnish migration is continuously growing. This fact in itself makes each published bibliography outdated. It is perhaps best, therefore, to view A Bibliography on Finnish Emigration and Internal Migration precisely as a first step. Under these circumstances, the work by Koivukangas and Toivonen is certainly welcome.

Published in Finnish Americana, 2(1979), p. 92-94.

© Keijo Virtanen

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