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The Return of Emigrants from America to Finland

Reino Kero

1. Introduction

Since the beginning of our century it has been customary to classify American immigrants as "old" and "new" immigrants. The former include English, German and Scandinavians while the latter come from southern and eastern Europe. Finns are generally thought of as belonging to the east European group. The basis of the classification principle is the time when the immigrants came to America: the greater part of the immigrants from the countries of the "old" immigration came to America during the period from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the 1880s, and from the countries of the "new" immigration during the last years of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The "old" immigrants are considered to have come to settle in America, the "new" are described as "birds of passage", who came to America to work temporarily and who had the intention of returning to their home country with their earnings.1

The classification into "new" and "old" immigrants has recently been questioned.2 Undoubtedly there have been grounds for asking whether the groups of "old" and "new" immigrants were really so very different, and it has been felt that when looking at the differences of the groups in detail it has been forgotten that the similarities between the "old" and "new" immigrants were, in the final analysis, much larger than the differences. Also the distinction that the "old" immigrants were settlers while the "new" were "birds of passage" has been considered questionable. However there are very few studies based on reliable statistics that deal with this question. The intention of this study, based on the examples of two Finnish rural communes, Karvia and Parkano, is to illustrate what the "birds of passage" who returned to Finland were like.

Karvia and Parkano have been chosen as examples of Finnish rural communes, because their emigration pattern can be considered to represent Finland's emigration areas. These communes, it is true, do not belong to Ostrobothnia, which is considered to be the main area of Finnish emigration, but as far as the strength and structure of the emigration is concerned they can very well be classified as "Ostrobothnian". The other reason for choosing these communes as examples for this study has been the situation regarding sources: emigrants from Karvia and Parkano have left more material than usual dealing with the nature of the return of emigrants.

As the study is based on only two communes the results cannot, of course, be considered to give an accurate picture of the nature of the return of emigrants anywhere else in Finland. It remains to be resolved in later studies to what extent the results that were gained from the examples of Karvia and Parkano are valid in areas where the economic and social structure, for example, are quite different from the sample communes, and whose emigrants settled on quite different areas of America, from the people from Karvia and Parkano.

The emigration from Karvia and Parkano actually started at the beginning of the 1880s, from Karvia perhaps 2-3 years earlier than from Parkano. The emigration reached its height in these communes at the beginning of the 20th century. According to the passport records 2565 emigrants, 947 from the former and 1618 from the latter commune left before World War I. Most of the emigrants from these communes were cottagers (itsellinen) and the children of tenant farmers (torppari) and farmers. About three-quarters of the emigrants were men. The emigrants from the northern parts of Parkano (present day Kihniö) settled mainly in North Minnesota and in the first place near the Hibbing mines. The emigrants from the southern parts of Parkano were more scattered throughout America. They can be found in smaller groups than people from Kihniö in Cloquet, Minn., Alabaster, Mich., Monessen, Pa., Worcester, Mass. and Thomastone, Me. The greater part of Karvia people settled in Covington in Upper Michigan, and Port Arthur and Nipigon in Ontario. In addition to this there were small groups from Karvia in Butte, Montana and Monessen, Pa.

The statistics available in Finland about emigrants who returned are not as accurate as statistics about those who left. The Central Office of Statistics gathered, between the years 1894 and 1939, information from the clerks who were keeping census lists of the number of emigrants who had returned, and published statistics dealing with them from 1903 to 1940 in the Statistical Year Book of Finland. The Central Office of Statistics, however, considers, and with reason, this information to be unreliable.3 The Office also published details of the number of returned emigrants which was based on the information given by shipping companies. This information refers to the years 18941925.4 The shipping companies when gathering the in-formation naturally did not try to separate those who came back to Finland permanently, from those who only came on a visit and, because of this the numbers of returning emigrants given by the shipping companies are larger than those given by the clerks who were keeping the census lists.5 It is possible with the help of official statistics to study in the first place the numerical variations of the returning emigrants.

The Central Office of Statistics also gathered information about the social status of the returning emigrants, but in this area the errors in the official statistics are probably very large, and it is impossible to make reliable comparisons between leaving and returning emigrants based on these statistics. To be able to get more reliable information about the social status of the returning emigrants it is necessary to make a card index based on the passport lists of the persons who left as emigrants from these communes, and then investigate individually who has returned to Finland and who has stayed in America. It is not possible in practice, even in this kind of study, to include all the emigrants that left the communes studied, because all the passport lists in Finland have not been saved, because some people did not use a passport at all, while some used false passports and in certain cases several people used the same passport. The samples that can be obtained from the preserved passport lists complemented by the duplicates of passport lists preserved in the archives of the Central Office of Statistics, are, however, so large that the deficiencies of the passport lists, at least in Karvia and Parkano, hardly have any effect on the reliability of the research results.

After making the card index based on the passport lists, it is necessary, before gathering the statistics, to make clear, emigrant by emigrant, who returned permanently to their home district and who remained in America after taking their passport. The most reliable and at the same time fullest information on this question can be found in the parish records where in addition to the main books a book of the absent members of the congregation is available.6 Very reliable information can also be obtained from the death notices in the American-Finnish newspapers and from the membership lists of the American-Finnish congregations. Somewhat less reliable information can be found in the lists of returned emigrants made by clerks keeping the census lists7 and from the interviews with those who have been (or are) emigrants. Information from these sources can be suplemented by written inquiries, even if such information tends to be rather unreliable. When relaying on a person's remembrance of events it is very important to assess separately the reliability of each person interviewed, or who has answered a written inquiry, by taking into account the memorising ability of the person and the relationship the person has had with the emigrant he is giving information about.

2. The Peaks and the Troughs of Returning Emigration

Even from the interviews, a fairly accurate picture can be formed of the trends of the returning emigrants: during the economic booms beyond the ocean only a few people returned to the "old country", while very many people returned home during periods of depression. On the other hand it has been verified when making the emigrant lists that the number of emigrants leaving in one five year period is reflected, in spite of the developments beyond the ocean, in the number of emigrants returning in the next five year period.8 To test these observations we have included in the following table, in addition to the number of returning emigrants in the area of the two chosen communes, Parkano and Karvia,9 information concerning the whole country between 1894 and 1924, obtained from the official statistics. The information about the economic fluctuations in the United States has been taken from Asher Achinstein's study Economic Fluctuations.10

According to the census lists 448 emigrants returned to Karvia and Parkano between 1894 and 1924 and 38591 to the whole of Finland. A comparison of the different parts of the table shows that fluctuations in the number of returned emigrants in Karvia and Parkano were, in general, paralleled by fluctuations over the country as a whole. The deviations are probably partly due to the fact that the figures based on the census lists have been prepared from a very varied subject matter. In part the deviations are, however, due to local differences, but the subject matter is not large enough to resolve these. The existence of local differences is obvious, in the first place because the different communes, and sometimes even larger areas, settled in specific areas, for example in the mid-West or in eastern states, and secondly, because the starting and high points of emigration varied considerably in different parts of the country.

When the series of trends in the USA reached the lowest point the number of returning emigrants, both in the areas studied and the whole of Finland, were almost without exception large. There are 10 trough years and 9 peak years in the table. In the trough years 173 emigrants returned to Karvia and Parkano and 13969 to the whole of Finland. In peak years only 105 returned to the sample parishes and 11423 to the whole of Finland. This proves beyond doubt that the effect of a period of falling trend and depression on the rise in the number of returning emigrants is, on the basis of the table above, considerable. When comparing, on the other hand, the numbers of returning emigrants in the year groups 1903 and 1904, 1907 and 1908 and the years 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914, it seems that not only the periods of falling trend and depression beyond the ocean, but in addition the number of emigrants that left in earlier years, can be clearly seen in the numbers of returning emigrants. Especially the year 1907 is remarkable. The number of returning emigrants in 1907 was large probably because emigration during 1905-1906 had been very strong, although the year 1907 was a boom year in the USA. Those who had adapted poorly to American conditions returned to Finland after a couple of years for the most part regardless of whether there was a boom or period of depression in America.11

TABLE 1. The number of emigrants that returned to Karvia, Parkano and the whole of Finland, between 1894 and 1904.

     

Those who returned to the whole of Finland12

Year

The economic situation in USA

Those who returned to Karvia and Parkano according to the census lists

according to the census lists

according to the shipping companies

1894

trough

5

630

2074

1895

peak

0

646

1757

1896

 

0

894

1.880

1897

trough

7

693

1825

1898

 

3

572

2689

1899

peak

0

312

1619

1900

trough

9

1043

2579

1901

 

7

1148

3176

1902

peak

11

901

2857

1903

 

46

1740

5268

1904

trough

62

1764

5406

1905

 

12

1259

3930

1906

 

38

1602

6790

1907

peak

42

3783

10809

1908

trough

12

3183

12440

1909

 

11

1601

4880

1910

peak

5

1641

5348

1911

 

38

2423

7688

1912

trough

33

2159

6892

1913

peak

37

2068

6533

1914

trough

26

1840

4457

1915

 

1

478

...

1916

 

0

221

...

1917

 

8

673

...

1918

peak

0

140

...

1919

trough

4

731

...

1920

pock

8

1553

...

1921

trough

8

1322

3026

1922

 

6

588

1413

1923

peak

2

379

1227

1924

trough

6

604

2283

   

44713

38591

108846

After World War I had begun there was a period of depression in America, that lasted for several years. The small number of returning emigrants during this phase is, however, hardly due to economic factors. The main factor was probably that it was dangerous to travel to Europe because of the war. Finland probably looked even less apetising, as the information went round the American-Finnish community that Finland was also involved in warfare.l4 More emigrants returned in 1917 than in any other years of the war. This might be due to the fact that some American Finns left the United States at this time to come to Finland, because they were afraid that they would have to join the American army.15 After the end of the war a factor that affected the number of returning emigrants, in addition to economic factors, was that those who had postponed their departure because of the war conditions, now returned to their home country.

Poor employment opportunities were thus often a reason for emigrants to return home. Accidents and becoming sick in America also had, particularly with regard to men, a very important part when making the decision to return to Finland. Information about these factors can only be obtained by interviews, but they obvidusly played a very important part among the reasons for returning, because out of the people interviewed in North Satakunta, ten mentioned accidents and becoming sick as one of the reasons for returning home (The total number of returned emigrants interviewed in North Satakunta was 96). The most important sicknesses that caused the return to Finland were, according to those interviewed "miner's tuberculosis", tuberculosis, typhus and mental illness. Because of the small size of the interviewed group it is not possible to define clearly how many of the emigrants who returned to the studied area left America because of some sickness or accident, but on the basis of the material available it seems possible that about 10 % of all those who returned may have had "broken wings".

Fourteen of the people interviewed who returned to North Satakunta mentioned that when they left America, they only intended to visit their home country and then return. For some reason they did not, however, go back to America. The most common obstacles to a new trip to America were: marriage immediately after returning from America, the difficult travelling conditions and the quota systems that the United States introduced in the 1920's that did not guarantee the right to return even for those, who had already received their full citizenship.16

It is quite possible that most accounts of the people interviewed about the changes in their plans for returning are true. On the other hand it is very obvious that those persons that only came "to visit" Finland had not adapted to American conditions equally well as those who stayed in America. The travelling obstacles, omitting the quota system; mentioned by the interviewed persons were in most cases such that it would not have been very difficult to overcome them. It seems very likely that many people who came back "to visit" Finland did not basically want to go back to America, where they had adaptation problems. Visiting Finland was perhaps for many only "an honourable" way to get out of America without admitting that the trip to America had not corresponded to the hopes they had held.

A large proportion of the people interviewed could not explain the reasons for their returning to Finland. In most of these cases the reasons for returning were perhaps in the adaptation problems met in America although the persons did not clearly realize it. Strange work, strange people, strange customs, strange language, a strange environment and sometimes also advice coming from Finland to return home, made the thought of returning so tempting that the emigrant could not resist it.

3. The Time Stayed in America

How long did the emigrants who returned stay in America? On the basis of the information gathered by the clerks who were keeping the census lists between 1894 and 1924 we get the following table from North Satakunta and as a comparison we have included in it information gathered from South Ostrobothnia.17

TABLE 2. The time emigrants from Karvia and Parkano stayed in America illustrated by information from the census lists.

Karvia and Parkano

South Ostrobothnia

under 3 years

161

37 %

6718

9 %

3-4

123

28 %

142

20 %

5-6

57

13 %

126

17 %

7-8

30

7 %

113

16 %

9-10

30

7 %

68

9 %

11-15

28

6 %

105

15 %

18-20

7

2 %

53

7 %

over 20

0

0

49

7 %

43419

100 %

723

100 %

When we compare the years emigrants from Karvia and Parkano stayed in America with the information gathered from South Ostrobothnia we can see that according to the table the period of residence in America of Satakunta people has lasted a considerably shorter time than that of people from South Ostrobothnia. The differences to be seen in the periods of residence that lasted a very long time - over ten years - can be largely explained by the fact that the last information concerning Satakunta people is from 1924, while information from South Ostrobothnia has been gathered as recently as after World War 11. As for the periods of shorter duration the differences must be due to the fact that the clerks keeping the census lists in North Satakunta and the research workers, who studied the emigration in South Ostrobothnia have calculated the periods lasting 2½ years in different ways:20 the former making it 2 years and the latter 3 years; or to the fact that the periods of residence in America of North Satakunta people have really been shorter in duration than those of South Ostrobothnians.

Although the big differences in the table between North Satakunta and South Ostrobothnia were solely due to the inaccuracies in the research methods one can, however, see in the table that most of those emigrants who returned to North Satakunta and also to South Ostrobothnia spent only a relativly short time in America. Of those who left North Satakunta and who returned home, 65 % (29 % of those from South Ostrobothnia) were in America for less than five years.

4. The Strength of Returning Emigration in Different Parts of Finland

It has been shown before that there were, according to the passport records, altogether 2565 emigrants from Karvia and Parkano, 947 of those came from Karvia and 1618 from Parkano. On the ground of census lists, records of congregations, written inquiries and interviews we can learn that 441 or 27.2 % of those who left Parkano and 216 or 22.8 % of those who left Karvia, returned. Altogether 657 or 25.6 % of those who left returned. Roughly every fourth person who emigrated returned to Finland for good.

Almost similar results have been gained in some South Ostrobothnian communes, where the number of returning emigrants have been studied. In Munsala it has been estimated that 31.2 % of those who emigrated returned home,21 while the figure for Peräseinäjoki was 27 % and for Seinäjoki, 21.75 %.22 Of the emigrants who left Maalahti about 50 % might have returned to their home commune.23 If the information concerning Maalahti is valid this commune probably represents an area, where the number of returning emigrants has been exceptionally large. Åland perhaps represents the other extreme in Finland; only about 12 % of those who left Finström and even smaller number of those who left Föglö, returned.24 The two communes studied, Karvia and Parkano, thus represent the strength of returning emigration very well as far as the communes of mainland Finland are concerned.

5. Structure of the Returning Emigration

To explain the social background of the returning emigrants we have, in the following table, classified those who emigrated into seven different groups, and counted how large a number of emigrants in each social group returned to Finland:

TABLE 3. The strength of returning emigrants in various social groups.

 

Parkano

Karvia

Whole area

 

left

returned

left

returned

left

returned

Farmers

43

25

(58.1 %)

66

38

(57.6 %)

109

63

(57.8 %)

Children of farmers

279

80

(28.7 %)

221

44

(19.9 %)

500

124

(24.8 %)

Tenant farmers

135

61

(45.2 %)

109

59

(54.1 %)

244

115

(47.1 %)

Children of tenant farmers

442

129

(29.2 %)

282

50

(17.7 %)

724

179

(24.7 %)

Cottagers

520

109

(21.0 %)

156

14

(9.0 %)

676

123

(18.2 %)

Workers

113

15

(13.3 %)

54

4

(7.4 %)

167

19

(11.3 %)

Others

86

22

(25.6 %)

59

12

(20.3 %)

12

34

(23.4 %)

 

1618

441

(27.2 %)

947

216

(22.8 %)

2565

657

(25.6 %)

Among the groups studied emigrant farmers returned most frequently, closely followed by tenant farmers. The return of farmers' and tenant farmers' children was, however, clearly on a smaller scale; even so emigrants from these groups returned more than emigrants from a cottager group. It was very rare that workers, farm hands, servants or maids returned permanently to Finland.25

To explain the age structure of the returning emigrants we have counted in the following table what was the variation among age groups among those who returned (age at departure). Because of the inadequate passport records of the 1890s the information concerns the period from 1900 to 1914.

It is apparent from the table that those under 16 returned most rarely. When looking at the other age groups, it seems that the older the age group the more people returned. Out of those who emigrated when they were over 50 years old, however, less returned to the communes studied than from the people in the age group 41-50 years old. It is possible that mere chance, due to the small size of the subject matter, has had an effect on the results. It is, however, also possible that the greater part of the emigrants who were over 50 years old when they left, were people whose children had earlier gone to America, and those people then went to spend their old age with the children and did not intend to take work like other emigrants. As the mortality rate is in general greater among the older than the younger age groups there is also reason to assume that a larger than average mortality among the 50 year olds has affected the small size of the returning percentage.

TABLE 4. Returning emigrants by age groups.

 

Parkano

Karvia

Whole area

 

left

returned

left

returned

left

returned

under 16

61

4

(6.6 %)

58

3

(5.2 %)

119

7

(5.9 %)

18-20

412

90

(21.8 %)

248

33

(13.3 %)

660

123

(18.6 %)

21-25

457

109

(23.8 %)

209

34

(16.3 %)

666

143

(21.5 %)

26-30

235

77

(32.3 %)

95

28

(29.5 %)

330

105

(31.8 %)

31-35

118

48

(40.7 %)

55

20

(36.4 %)

173

68

(39.3 %)

36-40

66

30

(45.5 %)

37

15

(40.5 %)

103

45

(43.7 %)

41-45

44

19

(43.2 %)

22

11

(50.0 %)

66

30

(45.5 %)

48-50

23

13

(56.5 %)

16

9

(56.3 %)

39

22

(56.4 %)

over 50

14

6

(42.9 %)

7

3

(42.9 %)

21

9

(42.9 %)

age unknown

25

9

(36.0 %)

65

17

(26.2 %)

90

26

(28.9 %)

 

1445

405

(27.8 %)

812

173

(21.3 %)

2267

578

(25.5 %)

Because it is obvious that the large percentage returning from the older age groups in table 4 is partly due to the fact that there were considerably more farmers and tenant farmers in the older age groups than in the younger ones, we have in the following table taken farmers and tenant farmers who left the area studied as one group and children of the farmers and tenant farmers as another. In the former group the old age groups are in the majority and in the latter the young people. Emigrants from the various groups returned according to the table as follows:

TABLE 5. The number of returning emigrants in various age groups 1) among farmers and tenant farmers 2) among their children.

 

1) Farmers and tenant farmers

2) Children of farmers and tenant farmers

 

left

returned

left

returned

under 16

1

1

(100 %)

42

4

(9.5 %)

16-20

3

0

(0 %)

456

98

(21.5 %)

21-25

26

7

(26.9 %)

373

93

(24.9 %)

28-30

54

27

(50.0 %)

121

43

(35.5 %)

31-35

59

29

(49.2 %)

31

12

(38.7 %)

36-40

53

30

(56.6 %)

13

5

(38.5 %)

41-45

41

22

(53.7 %)

4

2

(50.0 %)

46-50

21

14

(66.7 %)

4

3

(75.0 %)

over 50

11

8

(72.7 %)

0

0

(0 %)

age unknown

22

9

(40.9 %)

35

13

(37.1 %)

 

291

147

(50.5 %)

1079

273

(25.3 %)

According to the table the older the emigrants the more likely they were to return. Generally speaking it seems the older emigrants had returned relatively more often than the younger ones.

TABLE 6. The number of returning emigrants according to civil status.

 

left

returned

married

480

161

(33.5 %)

single

1625

367

(22.6 %)

widowed

5

0

(0 %)

civil status unknown

157

50

(31.8 %)

 

2267

578

(25.5 %)

There are quite a few faults in the passport lists concerning the civil status of the emigrants: there were probably more married people among the emigrants than is shown in the lists. The accuracy of the passport list on this point is, however, probably sufficient to give a general picture of whether those who got married before emigrating returned more often than those who were unmarried when they emigrated. In the following table we have estimated how usual it was for the people of various civil statuses to return.26

According to the table 33.5 % of those who were married before emigration and 22.6 % of those who were single when they emigrated, returned. From the group: civil status unknown, where there are perhaps both married and unmarried people, 31.8 % returned. The number of widows was so small that no conclusion can be drawn. According to the table it looks as if those who were married before they emigrated returned more often than those who were single when they left.

Men clearly formed the majority among the emigrants. In the following table we can see how general it was for the different sexes to return to the area studied. The table has been prepared at five year intervals, which makes it possible for us to see, whether the number of emigrants who returned out of those who left at the end of 19th century, at the beginning of 20th century and just before World War I, were different.

TABLE 7. The strength of returning emigration among men and women.

 

women

men

altogether

 

left

returned

left

returned

left

returned

1885-1889

4

2

(50.0 %)

24

5

(20.8 %)

28

7

(25.0 %)

1890-1894

8

0

(0 %)

100

39

(39.0 %)

108

39

(36.1 %)

1895-1899

37

3

(8.1 %)

125

29

(23.2 %)

162

32

(19.7 %)

1900-1904

135

22

(16.3 %)

590

174

(29.5 %)

725

196

(27.0 %)

1905-1909

227

19

(8.4 %)

658

207

(31.5 %)

885

226

(25.5 %)

1910-1914

224

28

(12.5 %)

433

129,

(29.5 %)

657

157

(23.9 %)

 

635

74

(11.7 %)

1930

583

(30.2 %)

2565

657

(25.6 %)

The table shows that while men were clearly in the majority among the emigrants when they left they formed an even more marked majority among the returning emigrants. Out of 1930 men 583 or 30.2 % those men who emigrated returned, compared with only 73 out of 653 women or 11.7 %. Because of the smaller percentage of women returning, it follows that when the proportion of women among the emigrants continued to grow, a relatively smaller proportion of all those emigrants who left just before World War I returned, compared with those who returned at the beginning of the century.27

If we compare the structure of leaving and returning emigration we can see that it was dissimilar. Among those emigrants who returned were relatively far more farmers and tenant farmers and relatively far fewer cottagers and workers than among those who left. The years spent in America meant of course that the group was older when it returned than when it left. In addition to this one can also see that the returning group of emigrants was, on average, older than the one that left, as emigrants belonging to the older age groups returned more generally than the younger ones. When men were in a large majority among the emigrants they formed an even larger group among the returning emigrants. There were relatively more of these people who were married before emigration among the returning emigrants than among those who left. The structural differences are due to a number of factors.

The large percentage of farmers and tenant farmers who returned was probably very often due to the fact that they had in Finland property, and often alo families that could not be left to take care of themselves. Going to America and staying there was thus for a large number of farmers and tenant farmers clearly a trip to earn money.

This money could then be used to pay, for example, the debts of the farm and tenant farm and to get money for building or buying additional land. When the economic aim of the trip was fulfilled the farmer or tenant farmer returned to his family farm. Also in those cases when the achieving of the aim seemed difficult, it was natural for the farmer and the tenant farmer to return. The farm at home guaranteed at least some kind of living.

Children of the farmers and tenant farmers often had the opportunity to return from America to take charge of the family farm.28

However when, as in some cases, ten children from one family went to America, and when, as generally happened, only one could return to take care of the family farm, it is very natural that the children of farmers and tenant farmers returned on a smaller scale than their parents. Cottagers and those of the same social class did not own any property in Finland and this makes it understandable why emigrants from these social classes seldom returned to Finland.

To some extent the differences in the returning percentages might also be due to the fact that those who were economically better off when they left might have had more adaptation problems in America than other emigrants. For the cottagers the American level of wages, perhaps omitting the worst economic depressions, meant a considerable rise in their standard of living. On the other hand this could have been so for many farmers too, but in any case the rise of the standard of living for farmers was relatively smaller than for the cottagers.

The large number of those returning in the older age groups was in part due to the fact that there were more farmers and tenant farmers than average in these age groups. The differences between the older and younger generations cannot, however, be regarded as being caused solely by the different social-professional structure of the different age groups. It is obvious that the relatively large percentage returning from the older age groups was also caused partly by adaptation problems: it was not as easy for the older age groups to adapt to new surroundings as it was for the younger people.

A large proportion of those emigrants who were married before going to America were farmers and tenant farmers. It is primarily due to this that those who had got married before emigrating, returned more often than those who did not have any family when leaving Finland.

The differences between men and women in the returning percentages, are perhaps due to several different factors. According to the interviews it can be shown that women, who were not married when they went to America, generally got married in America much more quickly than did men. "Finding a husband" was understandably very easy and "finding a wife" very difficult when, for example, three times as many men as women emigrated from Karvia and Parkano. A man had usually been in America for several years before he got married; a woman usually married before she had been there a year. Getting married undobtedly meant some kind of stabilising of life for the emigrants and when the family grew up it meant that returning to Finland became more difficult. As women reached this stabilisation stage much quicker than men, it is natural that fewer women returned to Finland than men.

If the woman was already married when she emigrated it usually meant that she went to her husband, because he was not willing to come back to Finland.29 This also had an effect on the percentage of women who returned making it smaller than that of men.

The working conditions could also have had an effect on the differences of the percentages of those who returned. At the beginning of the century in particular, men worked in the forests, mines and factories, where the work often was harder than in Finland. The largest proportion of the unmarried female emigrants went into service with American families, where work, for those who had come from Finnish conditions seemed to be light. The working conditions of women in those circumstances was often pleasanter than those of men. Women who worked in families in addition learned English quicker than men did in the big working places. Learning the language again made it easier to adapt to American conditions.

6. Did Success or Failure Lead to Return?

Had the returning emigrants succeeded or failed economically while in America? Did success or failure possibly lead to a certain kind of solution? It is almost impossible with the help of interviews or other sources to define how many emigrants in the returning group succeeded and how many failed. Persons who were interviewed in North Satakunta between 1964 and 1967 were asked, how they had succeeded when they went to America, but the answers were too vague to be classified. It seemed possible, according to the answers, that a little over half of those interviewed had had some savings when they returned from America, while a little under half of them returned with empty pockets. According to a corresponding study done in Munsala in 1934, there were among emigrants who returned 255 persons or 40.3 %, whose result was "good"; 109 or 17.3 % whose result was "quite good"; 104 or 16.4 % had a "fair result"; 117 or 18.5 % a "bad" result while the result of 46 or 7.3 % remained unknown.30 The period in America had, according to this, been a little more successful for the people from Munsala than for those from Karvia and Parkano. If the information about the duration of the period in America of people from North Satakunta and South Ostrobothnia are valid, it would be natural that people from North Satakunta had a less successful time in America compared with people from Ostrobothnia. However there are grounds for reservations about the accuracy of the study carried out in North Satakunta and Ostrobothnia, particularly as far as this point is concerned.

Although the information concerning the success or failure of the emigrants who returned from America is not accurate, we can clearly see in that behind the decision to return there could equally well be success as failure. Some individual emigrant might have decided to return because he had succeeded in reaching his economic aim in America, or because the visit to America had gradually become an economic disappointment. In the same way very many people probably stayed in America for a number of reasons, especially because it offered them a better standard of living than Finland could, or because selfesteem - or in the worst case a lack of travelling money - did not permit a return home, where failure would have produced mocking in the home village. When looking at large emigrant groups we can, however, see that the forming of these individual decisions was essentially effected by the social standing the emigrant had in Finland, by his profession, age, sex, civil status, while from the American point of view working conditions, opportunities of getting work and the time when the emigrant came to America had an effect. A middle aged farmer, who had a farm and a family in Finland regarded the same situation in America differently from the farm hand, who had neither property nor family in Finland.

The proportion of returning emigrants was only 1/4-1/5 of all emigrants and there are some areas in Finland where even fewer of those who left returned. In these circumstances it is not justified to use the term "bird of passage" about Finnish emigrants.

1 See for example Henry Pratt Fairchild: Immigration. A World Movement and its American Significance. New York 1914, p. 108, 128-133.

2 For example Maldwyn Allen Jones does not accept this division and uses the terms "old" and "new" in inverted commas. Maldwyn Allen Jones: American Immigration. Chicago, Ill., 1981, p. 268.

3 Suomen Tilastollinen Vuosikirja 1925 [The Statistical Year Book of Finland 1925], p. 72 footnote 2. In the Ikaalinen district to which Karvia and Parkano belong the clerks seem to have made the census lists from returned emigrants quite carefully, in any case more carefully than, for example, in the Ulvila district, where the lists were only kept regularly from 1910. The mere fact that the information concerning the Ulvila district is missing causes an error of several hundred in the figures of the Central Office of Statistics.

4 Suomen Tilastollinen Vuosikirja [The Statistical Year Book of Finland) 1910-1926.

5 Also the statistics made according to the census lists include very many cases, where a person who had permanently returned and was put on the list, changed his mind and left as an emigrant again. On the other hand a group of those who came temporarily did not return.

6 In North Satakunta at least Parkano, Karvia and Merikarvia have these books.

7 The Central Office of Statistics has these from the years 1894-1924 in its archives.

8 Edvard Gylling: Eräitä uusia tilastotietoja Suomen siirtolaisuudesta [New Statistical Information about Finland's Emigration]. Yhteiskuntataloudellinen Aikakauskirja 1910, p. 100-102.

9 Children born to Parkano and Karvia people in America, who accompanied their parents to Parkano and Karvia, have not been included in the table. Nor have those returned emigrants, who were in the list, but who went to America only after World War I.

10 American Economic History. New York 1961, p. 165.

11 Instead of the five year periods described by Gylling, it would perhaps be correct to talk about two or three year periods.

12 Suomen Tilastollinen Vuosikirja (Statistical Year Book of Finland) 1903-1925, statistics concerning emigration.

13 Some of these emigrated later again to America.

14 Raivaaja wrote (13.8.1914) that there were about 100,000 Russians and 50,000-80,000 Germans near Helsinki and there were probably fierce battles in Finland.

15 For this reason, for example, Fredrik Hakamäki from Parkano and Rikhard Kivimäki from Kankaanpää returned to Finland. Interviews in 1966-67. TYYH/S/h. (TYYH = Institute of General History, University of Turku.)

16 The widest research concerning the quota system is perhaps Immigration Laws of the United States by Frank L. Auerbach, Indianapolis, Ind., 1955.

17 Anna-Leena Toivonen: Etelä-Pohjanmaan valtamerentakainen siirtolaisuus vuosina 1867-1930 [Emigration overseas from Southern Ostrobothnia in 1867-1930]. Seinäjoki 1963, p. 186. Information concerning South Ostrobothnia is partly gathered through interviews by Toivonen, partly through postcard inquires from Munsala by Backman. For more information from the last mentioned, see Wold. Backman: Emigrationen från Munsala socken. En enquète av Samfundet Folkhälsan i Svenska Finland. Bidrag till kännedom av Finlands natur och folk. Helsingfors 1945, p. 35.

18 In Toivonen's study the group of those who had stayed 1-2 years.

19 In 13 cases the time stayed in America is unknown.

20 In the lists of emigrants there are some records of American trips that lasted 2½ years. The lack of records of trips that lasted 4½, 6½, 8½, 10½ and 15½ years is due to the fact that the number of years spent in America was rounded off by the clerks at some stage. It is not apparent in Toivonen's study, whether she has listed the American trips that lasted 2½ years in the group 1-2 or 3-4 years.

21 Backman, Ibid. p. 22.

22 Toivonen, Ibid. p. 27.

23 Helmer Smeds: Malaxbygden. Bebyggelse och hushållning i södra delen av Österbottens svenskbygd. En studie i människans oeh näringslivets geografi [Malaxdistrict. Settlement and Administration in the Southern Parts of Ostrobothnia's Swedish District. A Study Concerning the Geography of a Commune and Commercial and Industrial Life]. Helsingfors 1935, p. 336-337.

24 Frank Blomfelt: Emigrationen från ett skärgårdslandskap (Emigrationen från Åland 1856-1918 med särskild hänsyn till Finström och Föglö socknar). [Emigration from the Archipelago (Emigration from Åland, 1856-1918. Especially with Regard to Finström and Föglö communes). Licenciatework, University of Uppsala 1968 p. 153.

25 It has been discovered in Sweden that the return of emigrants from various social groups varied in the same way as among Finns according to the table above. John S. Lindberg: The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States. An Economic and Sociological Study in the Dynamics of Migration. Minneapolis, Minn., 1930, p. 252.

26 As in the two previous tables the information concerns only emigrants who left in the years 1800-1914.

27 In a similar study in Munsala it has been shown that 14.8 % of the women who emigrated and 37.2 % of the men, returned. Backman, ibid, p. 22.

28 In North Satakunta there were four people among those interviewed who had returned to take care of their parent's home farm.

29 As an example we can mention Hulda Otava from the Satakunta interview group, who went to America in 1912, a couple of years after her husband. Interview in 1966. TYYH/S/h.

30 Backman, ibid. p. 32-33. In addition to the classification above there was one person (0.2 %) who was not allowed ashore in America and who had to return after an unfinished trip.

Published in the Publications of the Institute of General History, University of Turku, Finland, 1972, Nr 4, p. 9-29.

© Reino Kero

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