[ End of article ]

The Finns in the United States

George Einar Ray

Thesis for Distinction in the Field of American History, Harvard College








The Finnish people


The Finnish Nation


The Republic of Finland



Finnish Immigration to the United States


The Delaware Finns


Immigration from Finland



Occupations and Distribution







Economic and Social Organizations


The Co-operative Movement


The Socialist Movement


The Temperance Movement



Intellectual Interests





  The Press

The Arts



The Finn Becomes an American Citizen




The Finn in Public Service





Two great forces, the frontier and an immigration unprecedented in the history of the world, have shaper American history and made it distinct from others. The first of these forces came to a natural and four decades ago and its place as an absorber for the immigrant flow was taken by the city. The problems arising from this change brought evils which finally necessitated the immigration restriction laws of the past decade, so the second of these forces has now been practically halted. With the disappearance of the frontier and immigrant tide, we have reached the end of an epoch and are witnessing the beginning of a new era, dominated by the problem of molding a homogeneous people out of heterogeneous material. The Census of 1930, showing a decrease in the foreignborn white population, bears out this fact. In this great process the Finnish immigrant has played a small and unnoticed role.

Tracing the Finn through American history has been a task replete with peculiar difficulties. Small as was the part he played, its treatment really requires several volumes. None have attempted this task, and what little has been done is for the mos part in the Finnish language and, therefore, out of reach of most readers. To find original sources it has been necessary to write more than one hundred personal letters to authorities on particular phases of the subject.

The writer cannot, for lack of space, acknowledge individually the more than one hundred friends who have personally contributed to this effort, some of whose names appear on the correspondence appended to the bibliography. He does wish, however, to thank Mr. E. A. Jasberg, Mr. W. H. Fellman, and Mr. A. J. Rauanheimo for their invaluable assistance in the collection of material, and Dr. John H. Wuorinen of Columbia University for the most thorough and painstaking manner in which he read the original copy of the thesis. To Mr. George W. Adams and Mr. Philip P. Chase of Harvard University the writer is especially indebted for timely advice and guidance. For any errors which the reader may find, the writer bears all responsibility.

Chapter I


The Finnish People

Who are the Finns? This question is as yet unanswered. For more than half a century it has been the cause for dispute among scientists, who have advanced two opposing theories.

Philologists, basing their conclusions upon language, classify the Finns with the Asiatics and assert that their original home was in the region between the Ural and the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

Anthropologists, using physical similarities as a basis for classification, maintain the Nordic origin of the Finns, and assign the Volga Basin as their birthplace. The belief in Aryan evolution from a Finnish ancestry, first stated by Diefenbach in 1861, was subsequently extended by Europeaus and Canon Taylor in an effort to prove that the Finns were the original Nordics.1

Studies being made at the present time by American and European scientists may eventually determine the origin of the Finnish people.

The Finnish Nation

The colonization of Finland occurred in the first six centuries of the Christian era. In 1157 the first of three crusades by the Swedes inaugurated the political union of the two countries. Finland became an archduchy in 1581, when John III, King of Sweden, became Archduke of Finland. In 1809, Alexander I of Russia, who had defeated the Swedes in the Napoleonic Wars, gave Finland the same status under his rule. The national spirit, which had been growing slowly in the grand duchy was crystallized by the publication, in 1835, of the "Kalevala." This was an epic composed of the poems or runes of the Finnish people collected by Topelius and Lonrot.

In 1899 the Panslavic movement, extended to Finland through Governor General Bobrikoff, resulted in the abrogation of the Finnish Constitution. A petition for redress of grievances was signed within two weeks, during the bitter cold of winter, by 592,391 Finns, one fifth of the total population of Finland. The Tsar refused to see it, but in 1905 a general strike caused him to return the Finnish liberties, which were incorporated into the constitution of 1906. Following the Russian Revolution, the Finnish Diet and Senate proclaimed the independence of the republic, December 6, 1917.

The Republic of Finland

Civil war between the "Reds" and "Whites", beginning with Finnish independence, was ended by German intervention, which resulted in the defeat of the "Reds" and their being driven back into Russia in April, 1918. On July 17, 1919, the Finnish Diet resolved to establish a republic, instead of a monarchy under a German prince, and a peace treaty signed with Russia at Dorpat, October, 1920, acknowledged the independence of Finland.

The goverment is based upon the Constitution of 1906, which was the first in the world to grant unrestricted universal suffrage. The first president, Dr. K. J. Stahlberg, was elected July 26, 1919, for a term of six years by the Diet, with the understanding that subsequent elections would be by the Electoral College, chosen by direct vote.

In 1928 the young republic was given the signal honor of being a non-permanent member of the Council of the League of Nations "on her merits as a state and because of her position between Scandinavian and Baltic States."2

Chapter II

Finnish Immigration to the United States

The Delaware Finns

1. The Invitation to Settle in Sweden

At the end of the sixteenth century, after the "Club War" in Finland, 1596-1597, these people were encourager by Prince Carl of Sweden, later Charles IX, to settle in Vermland and Dalecarlia Provinces of his land.3 The Finns came, bringing with them their ancient customs of elk hunting and burn beating. The latter was their method of increasing the fertility of the soil by burning trees and brush upon it. In the depths of the Swedish forests they were given much freedom of action. Gustavus Adolphus, the king, was kindly in his attitude toward them. For nearly four decades they were allowed to burn the forests and to hunt the elk in their own manner. Their life was one of humble contentment.

2. The Order to Leave Sweden

With the discovery of iron deposits on the land held by the Finns came their first disturbance. A few of them joined the Swedes in the newly opened mines. It was not long before Swedish settlements were arising near those of the Finns. Occasional disputes began when the Swedes protested to their magistrates against the burn beating and elk hunting of their backwoods neighbors. Stern decisions handed down by the justices could not curb the practices of the Finns, which they felt vital to their existence. Conditions became worse until, in the year 1637, an order was sent to the Finns commanding those who had no written title to their lands to leave Sweden. They felt this was most unjust, for they had thought the payment of annual taxes sufficient proof of ownership. The result was a refusal to give up their homes. They were convinced that their Swedish neighbors had been the cause of much of the trouble which had arisen, for it was they who had extended their settlements into the forests which Prince Carl had promised to the Finns.

3. The plans for a New Sweden in America

The idea of a colony across the seas had appealed to Gustavus Adolphus. Aroused by the vivid picture of America portrayed by William Usselinx, a Dutchman, The king had formed a company in 1624 for the purpose of building the New Sweden. The thirty Years War soon called Gustavus to his death on the field at Lutzen. Four years later, in 1638, his daughter, Christina, now Queen of Sweden, took up anew the project of a colony. She was encourager in this work by another Dutchman, Peter Minuit. Under his leadership, an expedition was sent to America to buy lands from the Indians on the river later called the Delaware. This business concluded, settlers were now needed to people the wilds of New Sweden.

4. The Finns are Sent to New Sweden

Enough Swedes could not be persuaded to go to the colony. Why not send some of the Finns was the thought which occurred to the officials. In this way those lacking titles to their property and some who had been convicted of trespassing upon Swedish lands in their pursuit of the elk were forced to go. A soldier, Mons Klinga, was sent to gather volunteers among those Finns who held undisputed title to their land. Complete freedom in the burning of forests and elk hunting was promised. But the Finns were skeptical. Once before they had left their homes, and now they were unwilling to do it again. Only a few young men whose claims to land were slender, volunteered. The officials had been told that if persuasion did not work they were to "capture the forest destroyers and ship them west."4 This plan was followed.

5. The Finns Arrive in America

A few Finns were included amongst the first thirty-five colonists brought to New Sweden on the Kalmar Nyckel and the Charitas in July, 1641. In November of that year more were compelled to go with the Swedes to the colony. three years later the Fama brought a new contingent of Finns to New Sweden. Ninety-two of them were listed on the records of the Mercurius when it arrived March 14, 1656. "In this group were thirty-three men, sixteen women, eleven maidens, and thirty-two children."5

6. The Finns as Pioneers

In their new homeland the Finns proved themselves accomplished pioneers. Their life, as compared to that of the English settlers at Jamestown and Plymouth, was singularly free from hardship. Having always lived in the wilderness, they found no insuperable difficulties on the shores of the Delaware. A recent writer, speaking of these Swedes and Finns says, "They were freemen, a hardy folk, these peasants, inured to labor, active, intensely patriotic, deeply and sincerely religious, extremely superstitious, and generally ignorant and illiterate."6

7. The Finnish Log Cabin

The construction of a new home was a familiar task to the Finn. At first he built a crude shelter (kota), by placing poles of a few inches in thickness together in a circle about twelve feet in diameter, much in the fashion of the Indian wigvam. Soon after, he began work upon a log cabin (pirtti). The Finns were the first to introduce this type of structure in America, its use spreading to the English colonies after the middle of the seventeenth century.7 For the Finns the log cabin served both as a home and as a bath house (sauna) until he found time to build a more pretentious dwelling. Then the old building was used only for the latter purpose. Numerous other structures were made to serve as storehouses and granaries. A perculiarity in their form is found in the fact that an air space of two feet was provided under the floor to avoid dampness. this is still a characteristic of Finnish buildings in rural districts.

8. Finnish Adaptation to Frontier Conditions

The skill, coming from years of practice in the home country in making articles and furniture with orude implements, was used to advantage by the new settlers. Birch bark was woven into baskets, ropes, boxes, sieves, sponges, salt and pepper bottles, and shoes. Of the latter, it is said that they "were cheap, cost really nothing, could be made in a short time, and in many instances did as good or better service than leather ones."8 The new life effected a change upon the Finn himself. The freedom of the new world spurred him on to increased effort. Though in Sweden he had been described as "lazy and indolent, preferring to spend his time over the fireplace of his primitive abode, rather than clear away the forests or sow his grain, in the new surroundings he became industrious and `worked for two."9

9. Finnish Settlements in New Sweden

The population of New Sweden was never large. In 1693 it numbered 942, including both Swedes and Finns, the average size of each family being five.10 The inhabitants were settled over a considerable region, there being some in the territories later included in the states of Pennsylvania, New jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The first community having a majority of Finns was appropriately named Finland. It was located on the Delaware River where today we find Marcus Hook. The second was Upland. The third, Takamaa (back-country), later Tacony, was on the site where Philadelphia stands today. In the same vicinity were two other small Finnish settlements, sauna (bath house), and Wiccaco. In several other village a number of Finns could be found. These included Kings, Kaliohook, New castle, Pennspeck, Malzang, Crane Hook, and Ammasland. Some of these communities, however, were not settled until several decades after the colony had been founded. In New Jersey they gave their names to Molicca Hill, Kivikisse, and Finn Point. From Raccoon Creek, Maticum, and Dear Point some of the Finns went to build homes on the Elk and Brandywine Rivers of Maryland.11

10. The Finns in Public Service

Some of the Finnish settlers in New Sweden won the respect of their fellows and of William Penn. Carl Johnson, a printer from Finland, became the secretary of Governor Printz.12 A trio of Finns, Peter Cock, Israel Helme, and Peter Rambo were appointed justices in the new court at Upland in 1664.13 In the following year they became members of Governor Carr's Council. Cock had previously been elected collector of tolls and customs in 1663. Rambo served as a commissary from 1658. Helme was well known as an Indian interpreter. It is said that the purchase of a tract of land on the Delaware by William Penn in 1682 was concluded at the house of Captain Lasse Cock.14 In 1701 this same "Captain Cock acted as an interpreter for Margaret Matson and Getro Hendrickson both of whom were tried and convicted of having the fame of a witch but were declared not guilty in the manner and form indicated."15

11. Peter Kalm at Philadelphia

On his journey to North America, a century after the settling of New Sweden, Peter Kalm, who later became a professor at the University of Abo in Finland, spent much time in the vicinity of Philadelphia. In his "Travels" he speaks of Peter Cock, a merchant of that city, to whose country seat he drove one afternoon.16 In another passage he refers to Andrew Rambo, a Swede in very good circumstances, and whose over-night guest he was upon one occasion.17 Among the original settlers of New Sweden we have seen that Cock was a Finnish name. John Rambo was a finnish settler at Wiccaco in 1643 and Peter Rambo was another Finn living on Raccoon Creek.18 From this it would appear that the descendants of the original settlers in his day were all considered as Swedes. For that reason in historical accounts the Finns are seldom mentioned as distinct from the Swedes.

12. John Morton

It has long been a contention of Finnish writers that John Morton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, as a delegate from Pennsylvania, was descended from Finnish stock. "His forbear, Marten Mortenson, came from Sweden. He died in Ammasland, May 31, 1706, at the age of one hundred years. The pastor made a note on his records that the old man was born in Finland. He left a son who wrote his name Morton Mortanson. He died at Calcoon Hook near Ammasland in 1718. The son of this Morton married Mary Archer from Ridley and died at the end of 1724 without having seen his child who was born at the beginning of 1725. This child was John Morton. His mother married a second time and John Morton was reared and educated by his stepfather, John Sketchley. On his father's side, John Morton thus descends from a Finnish family that had come from Sweden, and on his mother's side, from an English family."19

13. Last Traces of the Delaware Finns

In one more connection the Delaware Finns can be found exerting an influence upon American history. This came about as a result of the discovery of coal in Pennsylvania and the introduction of the railroad. In the latter part of the War of 1812, Philadelphia manufacturing, denied its English bituminuous coal, was faced with a servere fuel shortage. "William and Maurice Wurst, of Finnish ancestry, then residents of Philadelphia, and enaged in the drygoods business, had heard from the Indians in the vicinity of Nasareth. Pennsylvania, that 'stone coal' would burn, and conceived the idea of supplying coal to cover the shortage by the mining and marketing of this type of fuel. After several years of exploration, the Wurts brothers bought coal lands in the vicinity of Carbondale, and by the use of sleds and rafts on the Lackawaxen River, brought one hundred tons of anthracite to Philadelphia. A plan for canal improvement to ease the shipment of coal was given up when a railroad was planned to enable shipments to New York. On this Honesdale railroad the 'Stourbridge Lion' made its first run on American soil on August 8, 1829."20 One hundred and two years later the discontinuance of this line resulted in the unearthing of this information about the Delaware Finns.

14. Their Contributions to American life

The story of the Finns on the Delaware is distinctly one of the past. Few traces of their exixtence can be found today. In two ways, however, they exerted an influence which merits our attention. They gave to America the log cabin, the very symbol of our frontier, and it is claimed that one of their descendans took an active part in a great episode of our history, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Their children became true Americans centuries ago. They were probably no more, and, if anything, less significant than several other group of settlers of equal numbers coming to America at this time. Greatness cannot be claimed for them, but they deserve mention as the first of their people to come to this land.

Immigration from Finland

1. August Soldan, Philosopher

Before a real flow of immigrants from Finland to the United States began, on of these people came here as an adventurer and recorded his experiences in a diary. August Soldan, having left the Russian army to go to Paris where the Revolution of 1848 was in progress, came to New York in the following year. Being welleducated, he secured a position teaching school at Newark, Delaware, and later at Harvard College. In Cambridge he made a close friend in Professor Agassiz whom he called the first intelligent conversationist he had met in this country. While teaching chemistry. Soldan found time to perfect an invention for powdered milk. A few years later he conducted a successful civil engineering business at Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Homesickness, coupled with a pardon from the Russian Government for leaving the army, resulted in his departure for Finland in 1859. His diary is of importance as an original source for students of American social history, providing another viewpoint upon the United States of that day.21

2. Finnish Sailors in the United States

The first appearance of Finns in America in any considerable number, exclusive of the earlier Delaware settlers, was in California at the time of the gold rush in 1849.22 Finnish sailors with those of other nationalities deserted Russian ships at San Francisco to join the hunt for gold. One of them, "Golden Purse" Mikko Saapeli, found enough to take him back to his homeland and to purchase a farm. This latter enterprice failing, he made a second trip to America to replenish his fortune.23 His consequent obscurity attests to his probable failure. At the time of the Crimean War more Finnish sailors left Russian ships in the harbors of New Orleans, baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Some of these men later served in the Union navy during the Civil War.24

3. Finnish Immigrants from Norway

Finnish immigration to America in the nineteenth century, began as it had in the seventeenth, from Scandinavia, not Finland. A few Finns came with the Norwegians who immigrated here during the Civil War period. About ten thousand Finns were living in Norway at the time, they having gone to the western coasts to fish. An inflow of Finns from the northern coasts of Norway into the United States began in 1864. They came entirely by water to the western end of Lake Superior, Settling at St. Peters and Red Wing in Minnesota. In the following year, three representatives were sent from Finland to inspect the prospects of homesteading. Their reports were favorable. Thirty more of the Finns settled at Hancock, Michigan in that same year.25

4. The Causes of Finnish Immigration

Three main reasons can be found for the beginning and growth of this Finnish immigration into the United States. The chief one was the desire for economic betterment. Uncertainty of subsistence and small earnings motivated the Finns in Norway and Finland to contemplate the journey to America. Another cause can be traced to that spirit of adventure which has brought so many peoples to the New World. A third factor resulting in Finnish immigration to the United States, Russian political oppression, was not very important until after the death of Alexander II in 1881. All of these causes are interwoven with each other and with countless other factors, the general effect being a feeling of discontent among the Finns with the situation in Europe and their concequent emigration. As with other Europeans, America was the only place they expected to find ideal conditions.

5. Swanberg's Journey

The great activity in western railroad building required new sources of labor. One of the agents of the Northern Pacific Railway, named Swanberg, was sent to Finland in 1872 to gather men for the construction work being done in the Dakotas. In the nex year, he left Haaparanta, Finland, with two hundred and thirty prospective laborers, all of whom paid for their own passage. One writer says that they were described by the agent as "the type that would make excellent settlers."26 Upon arrival at Duluth, the Finns were told by some of their countrymen, already settled there, of the great danger from Indians and of the general discomfiture attendant in the work upon the railroad. In this land of liberty the newcomers decided to make their own choice. They refused to go to the construction camps. Some went to join friends in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and other settled on the Minnesota prairies.27

6. A Consular Report on Finnish Immigration, 1886

Since Finland was still a Grand Duchy of Russia in these years, no accurate figures on emigration can be found. An idea as to the quantity and quality of the movement can be arrived at, however, from the report of the American Vice-Consul at Helsingfors in 1886. He writes that "an annual emigration from this country (Finland) to the United States takes place, and amounts on an average to about 1,200 people, consisting chiefly of small land-holders and agricultural laborers. They emigrate principally because there is not work enough for them at home and partly also in order to escape the compulsory military service. They are all strong and healthy-looking men with means of their own to pay their travelling expenses and to support themselves upon their arrival in the states. They generally leave for the Western states, where there is already a large colony of Finnish immigrants, and where they enjoy a good reputation as industrious and well-conducted citizens; this is also proved by the constant remittances of money to their relations at home. This class of the Finnish population have their own wooden dwellings in the country and live comfortably upon bread, milk, and salt-fish."28

7. The Fluctuations in Finnish Immigration

The financial panics of 1873, 1893, and 1907 in the United States, with their attendant hard times, were temporary checks to the Finnish immigration. The newly arrived immigrants, in the five years after the first of these crises began, often had to write back to Finland for more funds. Many of those living in Minnesota found work on the Canadian Pacific Railway.29 The numbers again increased until the second of these panics in 1893 reduced the flow into this country for about five years, reaching low points at 1,380 in 1894, and 1,916 in 1897. The oppression of the Russian goverment increased the outflow from Finland. Particularly after the Manifesto of 1899, and in that year it reached 12,075.30 From 1900 to 1907 the flow remained fairly constant, averaging about fifteen thousand annually, but dropped sharply in 1908 after the panic of the previous year, to about six thousand. The average for the decade, 1901-1910, was 13,306. In the following decades it was 6,134 and 1,740 respectively.31 In 1925 came a drop in the inflow to 689, due to the immigration restriction act of the previous year. Since then, the average has been even less because of the quota.

8. Immigration at the Present Time

The quota for Finnish immigrants was increased from 471 in 1929 to 569 in 1930. It was almost immediately filled, for the number entering the United States rose from 477 in the former year, to 559 in the latter.32 It is of interest to note that the number of nonimmigrant Finns admitted in the year ended June 30, 1930, was much larger than that for immigrants, it being 1,948, or four times the number of immigrants.33 As to the country of departure of the immigrant Finns, we find that in 1930 almost one-half, 246, came from Finland, from Canada, 166, from Estonia, 98, from England, 20, and the rest from other countries.34 Classified as to trades, the immigrants included 85 servants, 28 farm laborers, 25 laborers, 21 farmers, 19 carpenters, and 16 clerks and accountants.35

9. Finnish Emigration from the United States

In recent years the number of Finns leaving this country has nearly equalled those coming in. Most of these emigrants have gone to Finland. In 1930, Finland received 245 of them, Yugoslavia 35, Estonia 19 and Canada 13.36 They included 53 laborers, 45 servants, 45 carpenters, 17 mariners, 8 clerks and accountants, and 6 farmers.37 Although it would not be justifiable to say that this was an average year, it does give an indication as to the vocations pursued by the Finns in this country.

Chapter III

Occupations and Distribution


1. Mining

The first work secured by the Finns in the Upper Peninsula was underground. Although they were inexperienced in this form of labor, it was something which required little more than sheer physical strenght. Little knowledge of the English language was needed. Having but little money, they couldn't purchase farms or lands, so the only chance for subsistence lay in working for others. It was the course of least resistance at the time, as they were unable to find more profitable employment.

2. Agriculture

Most of the immigrants from Finland had lived on farms from their childhood. It was natural that they should seek to establish themselves in agriculture as soon as they had saved enough money to buy a bit of land. Although they had not yet mastered the language of the country, they were familiar with that of the soil. It has been said by one of their numbers that "the only language the stumps in Upper Michigan understand in Finnish."38 In the Finland of the nineteenth century, agriculture was, for a majority of the inhabitants, the only possible occupation. It remains to be seen whether the children of the immigrant Finns will follow their father's footsteps.

3. The Lumber Industry

In the forests the Finn finds himself at home. A strong back and the ability to swing an axe effectively require no knowledge of language. As a consequence, many of the immigrant Finns entered the wilds of Michigan, and later of Washington, to earn their bread as lumberjacks. One writer says, "in both west and east the Finn ranks first among all nationalities in logging operations. His knowledge of the forest, his unequalled physical endurance in regions where snows pile high and temperatures sag to fifteen degrees below zero, and his sense of responsibility make him the unsurpassed lumberjack. His rigorous training in the 'land of a thousand lakes' and a land of as many hardships stand him in good stead."39

4. The Granite Industry

A few immigrant Finns had worked on stone in their homeland. The first of their countrymen to enter this occupation in America, however, were inexperienced. They were three young immigrants who, having just enough money to pay their passage to Boston, were standed there penniless. Starting out on foot looking for work, they finally reached the little town of Rockport on the end of Cape Ann. The forty mile hike from Boston, without food, left the men in a discourager mood, not aided by the hunger pains. Digging under the seaweed on the shore, they found some mussels and periwinkles which they were eating raw, when they were espied by some quarry workers employed nearby. These men fed the Finns and gave them work in the quarries. Letters written to Finland soon brought more of their people to the quarries.40 It was not long before some of these moved to Fitchburg, Quincy, and other towns where granite was being cut. At the present time this is their most common occupation in Massachusetts, where almost every granite quarry has its contingent of Finns.

5. The Fishing Industry

On the Pacific coast the salmon fisheries have attracted more Finns than has any other calling. They have prospered, and one of their co-operative canneries is today the largest on the Columbia River. This one company employs over five hundred fishermen, most of whom are Finns. They first came to that region in 1870, and took up homesteads on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Here the pursuit of both agriculture and fishing have enabled them to make a comfortable living.41

6. Other Occupations

Among the other occupations in which the immigrant Finn has found it possible to earn his livelihood are the building trades, the textile industry, the steel industry, retailing dry goods and groceries, and the professions. The number of teachers, physicians, lawyers and engineers is increasing among the second and third generations. At the present time there are thirty-nine registered physicians in this country who are of Finnish parentage. Six of them are women. The lawyers number more than fifty. Several of these are women also. One Finnish engineer has a factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which employs a thousand workers in the construction of engineering apparatus.42 In the cities, especially New York, many Finnish girls work as maids and cooks.


1. The Rural Inclination of the Finns

According to the Census of 1930, there were 320,536 Finns in the United States who were themselves born in Finland or whose parents were born there. The latter number 178,058. Of the total foreign stock of the United States, the Finns are 0,8 %, thus ranking twenty-second in the number of nationalities.43 An unusual tendency to rural residence can be noticed among the Finns, for of the fifty nationalities listed in the Census of 1920, they were forty-eight in percentage of urbanization. Their percentage of 53,4 % was above that of only two other peoples. The Mexicans with 47,4 % and the Norwegians with only 47,2 %.44 How far this disinclination to live in the cities is a matter of necessity, or of choice, is a difficult question to answer, but it seems that both factors have been working. The Finns constituted 1,1 % of the urban population of the United States in 1920 and 2,1 % of the rural.45 The only four large cities in which they represent more than 1,0 % of the population are Seattle with 3,1 %, Portland with 3,0 %, Minneapolis with 1,3 %, and San Francisco which has 1,3 %.46

2. Geographical Distribution

The Finns have settled chiefly in the northern states. They are to be found in greatest numbers in Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and California. Nowhere do they represent more than four percent of the foreign born population of any state. In Michigan, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon they constitute there per cent of the foreign born.47

3. Causes for Distribution

Whether the Finns have settled in the northern states because this was the line of least resistance, or because of the geographical similarity of these parts of our country to Finland is an open question. The fact that work which the Finn could do was to be found in the mines of Michigan and the forests of Minnesota, together with the inability of the Finn to get good homesteads he was too late, would lead us to the conclusion that he settled where he did because it was the easiest road to follow.48 There is a striking resemblance between the topography of Minnesota. Upper Michigan, and Finland. This is true as regards temperature, water, rainfall, glacial rocks, peat bogs, the short and swift flowing streams, the flora, and the general appearance of the land.49 As there are many Finns in California and New York, both of which are unlike Finland in many respects, this would tend to lessen the acceptance of the geographical argument.

[Page 28 missing in the manuscript]

newspaper. New York City has more than fifteen thousand Finns, most of whom are employed in the building trades, commerce, and the clothing industry. Several hundred girls work as household servants. Brooklyn has a "Finntown" which has its own newspaper. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania they engage in the building trades, coal mining, and agriculture.

5. The Central States

In the Central States are three-fifths of the Finns of this country. Ohio has centers of them at Fairport, Ashtabula Harbor, Conneaut, and Cleveland, where they engage in commerce, agriculture, and the steel industry. Several newspapers are published by them at Ashtabula Harbor. Michigan is the leading Finnish state. Here they are engaged in agriculture, mining, and in iron, steel, and automobile manufacture. Hancock and Detroit have the largest communities, the latter containing more than ten thousand Finns. In Minnesota can be found great numbers at Duluth, New York Mills, Virginia, Cloquet, and Ely engaged in agriculture. Throughout St. Louis country of this state, as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, can be found many small towns with Finnish names such as, Heinola, Wainola, Suomi, Toivola, Topelius, Lonrot, Runeberg, and Snellman. In Wisconsin the Finns find employment in agriculture, mining, and the building trades. In Illinois the clothing and steel industries attract a great number.

6. The Western States

One-fiftht of the Finns in the United States live in the West. In Washington they engage in the fisheries, agriculture, the lumber industry, and building trades. Seattle is their leading center. The Finns of Oregon earn their livelihood in the fisheries, agriculture, and the lumber industry. Astoria and Portland each have several thousand. In California they can be found in the lumber industry, building trades, and commerce. Mining is their leading occupation in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, although as the mines become deplected, the Finns move to the Pacific coast.

7. The South

With the exception of Florida, where they find employment in agriculture and the building trades, the Finns have avoided the South. This is mainly due to the inability of the European immigrant to compete with the native colored and white labor. It also seems true that the Finn prefers a climate similar to that of his native land.

Chapter IV

Economic and Social Organizations

The Co-operative Movement

1. The Growth of Co-operation in Finland

In 1866 Professor Palmen of the University of Helsingfors first introducer the idea of consumer's co-operation into Finland. His plan was to organize a group into a society for commodities and then retail the goods to themselves, all sharing in the profits through a rebate on purchases. Thirteen years later the plan was adopted with marked success by the Viborg Engineering Company. In 1899, the idea was extended, when Dr. Hannes Gebhard of the University founded the Pellervo Society, a national organization.50 Its growth was rapid. In 1929 it included fourteen hundred local societies. Since the World War, other such groups have been formed. The co-operative movement in Finland has become a national one, extending into every sphere of economic activity. This is attested to by the 5,644 societies, having 700,000 members in 1928.51 This means that practically every family in the country is represented in the movement.

2. The First Successful Finnish Co-operative in the United States

The Cloquet Co-operative Society was founded in Minnesota in 1910 by men who had gained their experience in Finland. Five years later, other nationalities were invited to join. The initial capital of the organization was only $1,900. The popularity of this form of group endeavor can be judged from the fact that by 1931 the number of members had reached thirteen hundred, and capital and assets had increased seventy fold. Total sales in 1928 amounted to $545,000. In that year, $10,000 was allowed customers in rebates, and more than $1,000 was expended for educational purposes in the co-operative field.52

3. The Co-operative Central Exchange

An organization named the Co-operative Central Exchange was founded at Superior, Wisconsin, July 30, 1917, by fifteen Finns, who together were able to subscribe $480 capital. Despite severe struggles with manufacturers, who at first refused them credit, fearing boycott by private dealers, the co-operatives built up a strong organization. Today the Exchange has assets of over $160,000. In 1928, the sales were $1,517,813. Its ninety constituent societies had a total membership of 19,769.53

4. Americanization of the Co-operatives

Although the Finns have continually maintained exclusive control over the co-operatives, an Americanization movement is making rapid progress toward the substitution of the English language for the Finnish. Most of the stores are know as the "Finn store." The discarding of the Finnish language by the younger generation, and a realization that further growth of the movement is contingent upon the admission, upon an equal basis, of other nationalities into the societies, will soon bring this Americanization about. Whether the success of the movement really depends upon this exclusiveness, remains to be seen. The election of several Finns to important positions in the National Co-operative League is another evidence of, and an argument for, Americanization. In 1928, one-half of the directors of this organization were Finns.54

5. Scope of the Co-operative Activities

As in Finland, the co-operators have entered practically all economic fields with which the Finn has direct contact. They have their own credit unions, banks, shops of all kinds, both wholesale and retail, newspapers, magazines, apartment houses, restaurants, and schools. According to studies made by the Business School of Harvard University, the eighty stores of the Co-operative Central Exchange were more efficient than chain stores or private merchants.55 The educational work of the societies is a vital factor in their very existence. Their schools provide special cources of study for prospective store managers. In these schools, of which there are two, one conducted in Finnish at Superior, Wisconsin, and the other in English at Minneapolis, the students are taught sociology, economics, the history of the labor movement, publicity writing, and bookkeeping. They have already graduated several hundred managers. Lectures, demonstrations, and the distribution of literature upon co-operation, are used in the education of the co-operators themselves.

6. Merits of the Co-operative System

The democratic form of the co-operative organizations and their ability to withstand the effects of the present economic crisis are the most obvious merits of the movement. All consumers served by the societies are welcome to membership, and with the increasing use of English in the stores, this opportunity to share in the benefits will be taken advantage of by more of the non-Finnish groups. Although figures on 1931 are not available as yet, indications point toward a continued growth in sales. On the whole, the co-operatives have a creditable record behind them.

The Socialist Movement

1. The Socialists in the Co-operative Movement

The leading members of the co-operative Movement among the Finns in the United States have been the Socialists. With the spread of Communism came a split in the socialist ranks which culminated in an effort, in the fall of 1928, by the communists, to get control of the Co-operative Central Exchange. In this they were unsuccessful. Propaganda, seeking to disrupt the Exchange through a boycott of its goods, also failed. As the situation now stands, the Socialists, who are the backbone of the co-operative movement, are supported by the conservative elements against the Communist opposition. The conservatives are usually found in the church and temperance groups.

2. The Imatra League

The first worker's organization of the Finns in the United States was the Imatra League, founded at Brooklyn, New York, in 1890. Its aims were the social and economic betterment of the Finns in this country. It was not a radical organization. A fairly rapid growth found it in 1903, having thirty-one constituent societies and fifteen hundred members. Socialistic doctrines, introduced by Dr. A. P. Tanner in 1889, resulted in the split of the Imatra League in 1903.

3. Causes for the Spread of Socialism among the Finns in the United States

Three conditions made the growth of Socialism among the Finns in this country possible. The first was the growth of the movement in Finland itself in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The second was the liberty allowed to the Socialist lecturers from Finland by the temperance societies in granting them the use of their halls. The third was the rise of Socialist press. The effecting of a national organization in 1906 brought into action a definite program. Seven years later it included two hundred sixty societies with ten thousand members.

4. Recent Tendencies in the Socialist Movement

At the present time the Socialist party among the Finns in this country is not as strong as previously. This has come about as a result of the sobering effect of Americanization and also due to the rise of a Communist faction which holds a program in common with the Soviet Republic. The agitation of this latter group has not added prestige to the Finns in this country, and appears to be losing ground even during the present economic crisis.

The Temperance Movement

1. The Causes for its Rise

The temperance movement among the Finns in this country was essentially, in the beginning, one for self-reform. It grew as a protest against the condition in which the immigrants Finns found themselves in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Its proponents were, in many cases, reformed drinkers. The desire for a means of social intercourse was strong among the Finns at this time. The construction of halls gave them use for their leisure hours and served to strengthen their unity.

2. The Growth of Temperance Societies

The difficulties of language arising when a few Finns joined the Scandinavian Good Templars in the 1880's, led to the organization of the Pohjantahti (North Star) Temperance Society among the Finns of Hancock, Michigan, February 22, 1885. Later in the same year, other units were formed in the Upper Peninsula. The rapid spread of the movement resulted in the organization of the Finnish National Temperance Brotherhood Association at Republic, Michigan, January 19, 1888. Their rules, in addition to those of the Good Templars, banned dancing and Sunday festivals. The "tyomies" (Worker) newspaper was subsidized by the Brotherhood. When the subsidy ceased, the newspaper began a campaign against the severe regulations of the Brotherhood, and fostered the organization of the Finnish Temperance Friends Association, at Calumet, Michigan, January 19, 1890. By the turn of the century the competition between the rivals brought nearly all the Finns into the movement.

3. Their Activities

The halls erected by the temperance societies in every Finnish community became social centers. Bands, orchestras, and choirs were organized in conjuction with, and through the support of, the societies. Plays, entertainments, and lectures were given regularly. Speakers from Finland toured the country exhorting their listeners to bring others into the cause.56 Books, pamphlets, newspapers, and calendars were published in great quantity. Libraries containing both Finnish and English literature of all kinds were fostered. At the present time they are the best sources for written material on the Finns in this country.

Chapter V

Intellectual Interests


1. Schools of Finland

The Church, requiring that every member be able to read, has been the greatest force in the development of education in Finland. This necessitated the early establishment of the "kierto" and "kansa koulut," elementary schools corresponding to our circuit and grammar schools respectively. They largely account for the low rate of illiteracy, less than one per cent. which prevails there.57 Higher education was provided in the University of Abo which was transferred to Helsingfors in the nineteenth century. The need for the education of the mother as well as the father was recognizer from the first. In 1844 the goverment lent its support to the founding of a college for women.58 At the present time, the country has three universities, the largest being Helsingfors, which has three thousand students, one-fourth of whom are women.

2. Suomi College and Theological Seminary

Realizing the need for spiritual guidance among the immigrant Finns, a group sponsored by the Finnish Evangelical Church of America, founded suomi College and Theological Seminary in 1896 at Hancock, Michigan, Rev. J. K. Nikander, an accomplished scholar and inspiring leader, became the first president. Under his supervision the school prospered. Though instituted primarily for the training of youth in the ministry and the preservation of Finnish culture, the college gradually widened the scope of its activities and initiated a junior college course in 1923. After the death of Rev. Nikander in 1919, Rev. John Wargelin was elected president. He is a man trained in the schools of this country, having received his M. A. from the University of Michigan. In 1929, he began a drive for a three hundred thousand dollar endowment fund which would enable the college to undertake a more extensive program.59 Although the school has never been large, its total of graduates had exceeded twenty-seven hundred in 1928. The substitution of the English language for the Finnish has opened new fields of study, and largely accounts for the flourishing of the school today. In 1931 the college was fortunate in securing Professor Raphael Engelberg of Helsingfors University to lecture on Finnish history and culture. Sent by the Finnish government, he is now making a lecture tour of East.

3. Finnish Children in American Colleges

The number of college graduates among the children of Finnish immigrants in this country is constantly increasing. In 1923, the University of Minnesota had close to one hundred students of Finnish parentage.60 Three years later, when Eliel Saarinen, the Finnish architect, then teaching at the University of Michigan, requested all the Finns studying there to assemble in his room, seventy-eight responded.61 Other schools which have a goodly number of Finnish students include the Universities of California, Oregon, Chicago, Washington, and Boston, and Dartmouth college. Michigan College of Mining and Technology, Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science and Art Intitute of Chicago. Hundreds of them attend schools of lower learning.

4. Finnish Teachers in American Colleges

More than a score of teachers in the colleges and universities of this country are of Finnish parentage. Most of them hold Ph.D. degrees, and several are full professors. In general, they are to be found in those colleges and universities which have some Finnish students.62 At least one teacher, a women, has gone from this country to teach in Finland at the University of Turku.63 Amongst the teachers in the secondary schools of this country, many men and women of Finnish parentage can be found. As coaches of athletics in the colleges of this country, some of the Finns have succeeded in producing intercollegiate champions.64

5. Students from Finland Studying in American Colleges

Each years an average of eight students from Finland come to this country to pursue advanced work which they have studied at Helsingfors or Turku Universities. In some cases their expenses are paid by the Finnish Government, and in others by private corporations. Usually the studies are of a technical nature with a view toward the definite and practical application of the knowledge gained. They are usually in the field of engineering, forestry, chemistry, physics, and the sciences. The value of such a program in promoting international good feeling, cannot be over-emphasized.65 As yet, not fellowships for study in Finland have been given to American students.


1. The Beginnings of Finnish Churches in the United States

As in the case of the temperance movement, the Finns in this country first joined Scandinavian groups in organized worship. This was possible, as many of the Finns spoke Swedish. At Quincy and Hancock, Michigan, Rev. Frederickson preached to mixed congregations in 1867. Six years later, the first Finnish church in American was organized by the Laestadiolaiset, or Apostolic-Lutherans, at Calumet, in the same state. There years later, the Evangelical-Lutherans, under the leadership of Rev. Alfred E. Backman, also founded a church at Calumet. Their pastor found most of his work in itinerant preaching which carried him through Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and the Dakotas. The first Sunday school had been held at Quincy, Michigan, in 1871. Two years later, David Castren founded a Finnish children's School modelled upon the state schools of Finland. The arrival of Rev. J. K. Nikander from the homeland in 1885, marked the beginning of a wellorganized church at Hancock. He was very active in the founding of a synod among the Evangelical churches in 1890. Throughout these latter years of the nineteenth century came an influx of Finnish clergy to this country.66

2. The Finnish-American Church

The influence of Mormonism can be traced into the short-lived Finnish-American Church which was founded at Ironwood, Michigan, in 1882. Its "Joseph Smith" was Rev. J. W. Eloheimo, secretary of the Evangelical Synod. It was his desire to establish an episcopal church among the Finns in this country. Accordingly, he claimed to have received a revelation from God commanding him to inaugurate a thousand-year reign as ruler of the Finnish churches in the United States. For some unknow reason the revelation refused to work, so that Rev. Eloheimo gave up his newly-founded organization to become president of the National Church. His followers were equally ready to disregard the divine command and, with their leader, joined the National Church.

3. Finnish Churches in the United States at the Present time

There are three large denominations among the Finnish churches in this country today. They are the Evangelical, the Apostolic, and the National Churches. Their differences are but slight, as all of them are Lutheran. The Evangelical is the largest, having 183 churches and 35,672 members in 1930. In 1926, the Apostolic, formerly the Methodist, had 138 churches and 24,016 members. The National Church had 78 churches and 9,072 members in 1930.67 A lesser number of Finns can be found in the Congregational, the Baptist, the Adventist, and the Unitarian Churches. In all of these denominations an Americanization process is taking place with the substitution of the English language for the Finnish. Despite this fact, the use of the latter is still quite general, as is evidenced by the broadcasting of services by Rev. Carl Tamminen of Duluth, Minnesota.68

The Press

1. First Efforts to Establish a Finnish Press in the United State

The earliest attempt to publish a Finnish newspaper in this country was made by Antti J. Muikku, a student from Finland. On April 14, 1876, he brought out the first issue of the "Amerikan Suomalainen lehti" (American Finnish Newspaper), at Hancock, Michigan. It was a four page paper containing American and Finnish news, political sidelights, and local topics. Subscription was two dollars, but as Muikku was only able to secure three hundred subscribers, the paper was discontinued after thirteen issues.69

2. Other Early Finnish Newspapers

The second and third attempts to provide a Finnish press were more successful than the first. In 1878, Matt Fredd, a master painter, printed the four-page "Sven Dufva" on a homemade press. He later changer the name to "Sankarin maine" (Hero's Reputation). His enterprise failed three years later, due to lack of support on the part of his readers. The third effort was made by Alex Leinonen, who, in 1879, first edited the "Siirtolainen" (Immigrant), at Calumet, Michigan, for a group of his countrymen. Shortly afterwards, when a quarrel arose over religion, he purchased the paper and cotinued to publish it for fourteen years.

3. The Development of the Finnish Press

During the three decades following 1885, the greatest growth of the Finnish press in this country occurred. At Minneapolis, in 1881, August Nyland founded the "Uusi Kotimaa" (New Homeland). This was well supported and still exists today, being the oldest Finnish newspaper in the United States. Three years later, August Edwards first published the "Yhdysvaltain Sanomat" (United States' News). This was followed by the "Walvoja" (Guardian), a religous monthly, which appeared in 1885, edited by J. W. Lahde, J. K. Nikander, and J. J. Hoikka. In the years from 1884 to 1920, sixty-three Finnish newspapers were founded, of which sixty per cent of them were discontinued in that period of time.70

4. The Socialist Press

The percentage of Socialist newspapers to the total of all Finnish publications is very high, being exceeded only by that of the Armenians.71 The first two Finnish Socialist newspapers, the "Aika" (Time), and the "Vapahtaja" (Emancipator), were founded in 1901. Two years later came the "Amerikan Tyomies" (American Worker). Ten years after the first issue, the subscribers numbered thirteen thousand. In the years since the World War, several Socialist papers have turned to Communism. The chief explanation for this change probably lies in the reaction against Russian rule at the time of the World War, and in the Russian and Finnish revolutions.

5. The Significance of the Finnish Press

In 1918, there were twenty-nine periodical publications among the Finns in this country, of these, seven were Socialist, one an organ of the Industrial Workers of the World, and the rest were liberal. The circulation was as follows: Socialist, 29,000; I. W. W., 3,500; and liberal, 59,000.72 The total of over one hundred thousand subscribers indicates that one out of every three Finns in this country was buying a paper written in his own language. As about one-half of the Finns were not born in Finland, they would not be readers of the Finnish papers. Thus the average would be two papers for every three immigrants. The rapidity with which these papers die out will be a good measure of the assimilation of the Finns into the American social order.

6. The Creation of a Finnish Literature in the United States

Two Finns in America have written outstanding historical works in their own tongue during the past few years. Rev. Rautanen's. "American Suomalaisten Kirkon historia." and Rev. Ilmonen's. "American Suomalaisten Sivistyshistoria." and his numerous other works, are in that language. "Before William Penn," a novel on the Delaware Finns by Akseli Rauanheimo, has a Finnish as well as English version. In his "Americanization of the Finns", Dr. John Wargelin has made an illuminating sociological study of these people. English-Finnish grammars by Clemens Niemi, George Halonen, and others have contributed to a better understanding of that language. The works of Dr. John H. Wuorinen, "Nationalism in Modern Finland," and "The Prohibition Experiment in Finland," meet the test of the highhest standards in historical writing. Although he is a native of Finland, his work is essentially a product of American methods and is of interest to the people of both countries.

The Arts

1. Music

In the field of music the Finns have shown great interest. The composers arising among the Finns in this country have been influenced almost entirely by the traditions of the homeland. The greater part of their work has been done in the field of band music, although a number of choral and piano compositions have been written. Most of the composers have been teachers of music in the schools of this country and also conducted bands and other musical organizations. Among these may be noted Martti Nisonen of Suomi College; Kaarlo Kilkka of Astoria, Oregon; George Wahlstrom of Ashtabula, Ohio; Victor Taipale of Nashwauk, Minnesota, and Waino Warvikko of Quincy, Massachusetts. Great impetus has been given the musical activities of the Finns in this country by the visits of Jean Sibelius and Selim Palmgren. The former received an honorary degree from Yale University in 1914. The latter is the outstanding Finn in the field of music in this country today. Coming here on a concert tour in 1921 with his wife, the noted singer Maikki Jarnefelt, he was persuaded to stay, and has since been teaching at the Eastman Conservatory at Rochester, New York. As a composer and pianist, Palmgren has an international reputation.

2. Architecture

In Eliel Saarinen, the architect, Finland has probably made its greatest contribution to this country. With a reputation already firmly established in Europe, he came here in 1922 and won second prize in the competition for the "Chicago Daily Tribune" Building. An American archtiect says of Saarinen's design,

"While all the critics and commentators hailed it as a work of genius, not one of us was wise enough to see in it the achievement we had searched so long -- the solution of the problem of the skyscraper ... It is only in the last year or so of the five that have passed since the competition, that the profound influence of this building that was never built has become evident, that these dozen sheets of white paper on which Saarinen has so painstakingly and lovingly depicted his dreambuilding are more potent in the present and future of American architecture than any creation of stone and steel in the land ... It is the best design since Amiens. As Louis Sullivan described it. `It is a voice resonant and rich, ringing amidst the wealth and joy of life. In utterance sublime and melodious, it prophecies a time to come, and not so far away, when we shall escape the bondage and the mania of fixed ideas. It goes freely in advance, and, with the steel frame as a thesis, displays, such as the world up to this day had neither known or surmised ... Rising from the earth ... it ascends in beauty, lofty and serene, until its lovely crest seems at one with the sky."73

Saarinen's influence and accomplishments have been all important in the development of the younger generation of Finns, in that field, both here and abroad.

3. Painting

In the field of painting, the Finns of this country have barely begun their work. As in music, example and inspiration from the homeland have come to aid students here. The immigrant found no time to study the fine arts, but his children are now able to do that in the American schools. It was to students then that Akseli Gallen-Kallela made his appeal when he visited this country in 1925. Although his influence undoubtedly has been great, the works of Finnish artists in America is essentially a part of the schools of this country and reflects to a great extent the influence of their outstanding teacher and leader, Professor Elmer A. Forsberg of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chapter VI

The Finn Becomes an American Citizen


1. Naturalization

The Finn has not been slow in taking advantage of the opportunities of citizenship. Of the twenty-three so-called "new immigrant races" of this country, the Finns rank second in the percentage of those naturalized and holding first papers, with an average of 61,2 %.74 These figures, however, are likely to exaggerate the rapidity with which these people attain citizenship for, in 1914, the average age interval between the date of immigration and that of the filing of the final petition for naturalization of those born in Finland, twenty-one years of age or over, was ten and a half years.75

 When one considers the difficulty of the Finn in learning the English language and the fact that the average interval for all nationalities was twelve years, it would seem that the Finn has a desire to attain citizenship, which is somewhat stronger than the average, yet not very unusual.

2. Americanization

One writer, himself a Finn, has said that "in the mines the Finn was truly baptized into `real Americanism'. Here he was thrown into a heterogeneous mass of co-workers. Here he faced the same experiences, same dangers, the same rules and regulations with his fellow workers. And while he was engager in the teamwork, national barriers, even race prejudice, gradually disappeared from his mind. He took a broader attitude toward life and he desired to think and act like the rest of the group. Thus the change of environment, working conditions, and dress tended to destory his old habits and customs."76 Through the relations of the Finn to his co-workers can also be attributed his entrance into the trade unions which gladly took him in, regardless of his inability to speak English. One writer has said that in the labor unions many Finns claim to have learned to speak English.77

3. The Finns of the United States During the World War

During the war came a test of the loyalty of the Finns to their adopter country. Their position was doubly difficult, as Russia, from whom greater autonomy or independence was wanted, was on the same side as that which the United States joined soon after Russia had signed a treaty of peace with Germany. Moreover, in the Finnish Civil War the White Guard were enabled to win through the assistance of German troops. In 1917, however, the Lincoln Loyalty League had been organized at Duluth, Minnesota. Through the dissemination of literature, and through public meetings, this group of Finns strove to aid those born in Finland to become United States citizens and to imbue in them the American spirit. Another large association doing similar work and organized at this time was the American Finnish Loyalty League which had branches throughout the western states. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Finns to this country's cause was the man-power furnished by more than ten thousand of them to the military and naval forces of this country. They were mostly of low rank, the highest reached by any of them being that of a major.78

4. Fostering Goodwill between the United States and Finland

The American Finnish Discussion League was organized in 1925 with the aim of bringing about American and Finnish co-operation and goodwill. This was to be accomplished by bringing Finland to a par, in this country, with other nations. Finnish leaders in economic and intellectual pursuits were to be encouraged to travel in this country, giving lectures upon their homeland. Fellowship for students from Finland to the United States, and from this country to Finland, were to be established. In 1925 a meeting at Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio, was held, at which it was decided to raise a fund of one hundred thousand dollars to carry out these aims. Another meeting in that year at Brooklyn, New York, resulted in the organization of an executive committee headed by Akseli Rauanheimo. Two other groups have been formed by the Finns in this country to perpetuate Finnish culture and traditions in the Foreign Finnish League and the Finland League. Both of these are, however, quite small.

The Finn in Public Service

1. Party Affiliations

The friendship of Theodore Roosevelt for the Finns accounts, to a great extent, for their Republican and independent stand in politics. He was well acquainted with them and in his autobiography notes his liking for their literature.79 Another reason for the Republican inclination of the Finns lies in the fact that Democratic administrations usually mean small appropriations for the use of granite, and consequently less work for those engaged in that and allied industries. The Socialist Finns have voted with their party as a rule, but since they are more recent immigrants, a lesser proportion of them are citizens. Moreover, when they do acquire that status, they usually become more conservative. In recent years this change has been evidenced in the weakened condition of the Finnish Socialist organizations.

2. The Finn in Political Office

Up to the present time the Finns have not been very active in seeking positions in the government of this country. In 1921, Oscar J. Larson, a representative of the Eighth Minnesota District, was the first of their number to be elected to Congress.80 Six have been, or are, members of state legislatures. Of these, two were in Montana, two in Oregon, and one each in Minnesota and Indiana. Albert Budas, a Finnish banker of Montana, has been in the State Legislature for seven years and is now chairman of the committee on agriculture. There have been thirty Finnish mayors in this country, one of whom, Dr. Mayme Kaukonen, was the first woman to hold that position at Fairport, Ohio. In the counties, cities, and towns of Michigan and Minnesota, many Finns serve as district attorneys, sheriffs, and other officials. In the postal service of the country may be found more than one hundred Finns.81


From this brief survey of the Finns in this country certain conclusions can be drawn as to the part they have played in the community:

1. The Finns have been relegated to an undeserved obscurity in American historical writing.

2. They have not become public charges because they have always paid their own passage and have not congregated in large cities to any great extent.

3. At the present time they have more leaders and members in the co-operative movement than any other people.

4. Their outstanding contributions to American life have been through architecture in the log cabin and the influence of Eliel Saarinen upon the modern skycraper.

5. Up to the present time they have not produced any outstanding leaders in the American community, appearing content to be followers.

6. They have proved themselves ready to take advantage of America's greatest gifts -- free public education and universal suffrage.

The story of the Finnish immigrant is drawing to a close. His children now take up the standard, but we notice that they are not Finns -- they are Americans.


To the writer's knowledge, this is the first bibliography which has been attempted on the subject of the Finns in the United States. Many works which have been read for general background have not been included, because they do not touch directly upon the main problem. These would include many written upon Finland and its people.

Collecting the material was not a task of the easiest sort. In most cases the writer learned of a book through personal correspondence with Finns either in this country, Canada, or Finland. Most of the works necessitated several letters, for the writer had to rely upon the kindness of his correspondents in sending him those which he could not otherwise procure. This was especially the case with books written in Finnish which could not be found except where there were Finnish reades.

No work has ever been written upon this subject which has attempted to cover the ground which the writer has treated in so brief a manner. Several volumes would be necessary to do it justice, but there is not a large enough reading public interested to make such an endeavor a financial success. The writer has tried, however, to indicate as fully as possible the lines which such a work would follow. The amount of orginal research which even this brief effort has necessitated gives us some idea as to the labor such a performance would involve.


  1. Acrelius, I., A History of New Sweden. Translated from the Swedish by William M. Reynolds, Philadelphia, 1874. This authority, although seldom making any distinction between the Finns and Swedes, gives a thorough account of the life in the colony.
  2. Aho, Juhani, Aatteiden mies, Porvoossa, 1901. American social history, 1849-1859, as recorded by August Soldan, the philosopher, is made available by one of Finland's greatest authors.
  3. Armstrong, Edward, ed., The Record of the Court at Upland, Philadelphia, 1860. Here we find a most useful sonrce book on the Delaware Finns.
  4. Chase, L. A., Rural Michigan, New York, 1922. Much valuable material on the Finns in Michigan agriculture is given by Professor Chase.
  5. Crawford, John Martin, The Kalevala. Translated into English, New York, 1888. An acquaintance with this epic is essential to the understanding of Finnish culture and intellectual interests.
  6. Daniels, J., Americanvia the Neighborhood, New York, 1920. A sympathetic picture of the Finns at Fitchburg, Massachusetts, is drawn by the author.
  7. Dixon, Roland B., Racial History of Man, New York, 1923. This work gives a studied account of the origins of the Finnish people.
  8. Garis, Robert L., Immigration Restriction, New York, 1927. The rapidity of naturalization among the Finns in this country is indicated by the writer.
  9. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 3rd. ed., H. C. Colles, ed., 5 vols., v.IV, New York, 1928. In this biography can be found several passages on the masters of Finnish music.
  10. Hazard, Samuel, Annals of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1850. The author gives an informing account of life in the vicinity of Philadelphia from 1609 to 1682.
  11. Hirvonen, Juuso, Michiganin Kuparialue ja Suomalaiset Siirtolaiset, Duluth, Minn., 1920. This Finnish writer catalogues the leading Finns in Michigan and gives a brief record of their activities.
  12. Ilmonen, S., Amerikan Ensimmaiset Suomalaiset, Hancock, Mich., 1916. The writer gives a complete narrative of the Delaware Finns, but allows the reader no opportunity to look up his sources through footnotes.
  13. Ilmonen, S., Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia, 3 vols., Hancock, Mich., 1919, 1923, 1925. A stupendous amount of material which is too unwieldy for three volumes results in a cataloguing of the Finns in America. The absence of footnotes forces the reader to use extreme care in checking over this work.
  14. Ilmonen, S., Amerikan Suomalaisten Sivistyshistoria, 2 vols., Hancock, Mich, 1930, 1931. This cultural history of the Finns in this country is an important contribution, but lacks footnotes.
  15. Johnson, Amandus, The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware, 2 vols., New york, 1911. This thorough account of New Sweden fails to do justice to the part played by the Finnish settlers.
  16. Kirkollinen Kalenteri, Hancock, Mich., 1920-1931. Provided he does not get lost in the extraneous material, the reader of this annual report of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church can find important statistics upon the religious life of the Finns in this country.
  17. Niemi, Clemens, Americanization of the Finnish People in Houghton County, Duluth, Minn., 1921. This brief study describes the economic, social, and intellectual activities of the Finns in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  18. Odhe, Thorsten, Finland, a Nation of Co-operators. Translated from the Swedish by John Downie. London, 1931. An excellent analysis of the co-operative movement in Finland is combined by the author with intelligent observations on Finnish intellectual pursuits.
  19. Park, Robert E., The immigrant Press and Its Control, New York, 1922. A sympathetic treatment of the subject and a broad-mindedness seldom surpassed combine to make this a most useful work especially on the Socialistic press.
  20. Rauanheimo, Akseli, Before William Penn, Philadelphia, 1929. This novel, based upon the brief summary of historical fact given in the introduction gives a pleasing description of life in New Sweden.
  21. Ripley, William Z., The races of Europe. London, 1913. The author devotes much space to his account of the origins of the Finns.
  22. Roberts, Peter, Immigrant Races in North America, New York, 1910. This work is out of touch with the conditions today among the Finns in this country.
  23. Van Cleef, Eugene, Finland, the Republic Farthest North, Columbus, Ohio, 1929. Finland of the present day is analyzed especially from the economic viewpoint in this work of a geographer.
  24. Van Cleef, Eugene, The Finn in America, New York, 1918. Professor Van Cleef undertakes to prove that the Finn in this country is largely what his native land has made him.
  25. Ward, C., The Dutch and Swedes on the Delaware. Philadelphia, 1930. A pleasant story of the life in New Sweden is given by the author.
  26. Wargelin, John, The Americanization of the Finns, Hancock, Mich., 1924. This sociological study of the Finns in this country is of especial interest to any student of the subject. Although it lacks a bibliography, the work makes a worthwhile analysis of the position of the Finn in this country a decade ago.


Only those articles which the writer has deemed as important as the books listed are included. This means that only about one-fourth of the useful sources are noted, since the others do not give enough material to make them worth mentioning except in footnotes.

  1. Blennerhasset, Wm. L.; Hirn, Irjo; Wiklund, K. B. Encyclopedia Britannica 14th ed. v.IX. pp. 253-259. These articles on the Finns and Finland are well-written, but the treatment of the racial question is from a linguistic standpoint, and, in light of the most recent research, not very sound anthropology. Common fallacies and misconceptions can be found even in these studied works.
  2. Hedges, James B., "Colonization Work of the Northern Pacific Railroad" Mississippi Valley Historical Review, (1926) p. 323. This article's importance lies in the fact that it gives us a brief account of "Swanberg's Journey" as viewed from the standpoint of the railroad people.
  3. The Interpreter. The Foreign Language Service, March, 1928. This issue gives a brief but clear account of some phases of the co-operative movement among the Finns in the United States.
  4. Lingelbach, William E., " Geography in Russian History," Popular Science Monthly, v. 86, No. 1, pp. 5-25 (1925). The question of the origin of the Finns, viewed as part of the Russian Empire of pre-war times, is touched.
  5. Pintner, R. and Keller, R., Intelligence Tests of Foreign Children, Journal of Ed. Psych., (April, 1922) vol. XIII, No. 4. In the tests of intelligence the Finnish children lead those of sixteen other nationalities and are surpassed by only three others. Since the number tested were few, too much emphasis should not be placed upon these results. The fairness of the test is also another consideration, since difficulty with the language may be mistaken for signorance.
  6. Twenty Years of Co-operative Trading in Waukegan, Illinois Waukegan, 1931 (Co- operative Trading Co.). This little booklet gives a remarkably clear and enlightening account of the growth of the co-operative movement in Waukegan.
  7. The Co-operative Pyramid Builder, (Co-operative Central Exchange) Superior, Wisconsin, Sept.-Oct., 1927. This pamphlet of the Co-operative Central Exchange, issued on its tenth anniversary, shows the rapid rise of this organization to a position where it can stand up successfully against the chain store.
  8. Vuosikirja (Central Co-operative Wholesale) Superior, 1927, 1930, 1931. This Finnish yearbook gives the annual report of the various departments of the Central Co- operative Wholesale with numerous articles on co-operation.
  9. What's It All About. (repring from the Co-operative Pyramid Builder) January, 1931. This article tells in colorful language the story of the fight between the communistic element and the rest of the Finns for the control of the co-operatives. It is published by the latter who won a complete victory.
  10. Yearbook of the Co-operative League of the United States of America, New York, 1931. From this booklet, which has material enough for several volumes, one can get a full account of the present status of co-operation in the United States. Edited by a Finn, V. S. Alanne, its pages are full of their doings. It is the measure of their greatest economic effort, the co-operative movement.

Government Documents

  1. Finland -- Suomen Tilastollinen Vuosikirja, Bureau Central de Statistique, Helsinki, 1930. This document, written in French and Finnish, gives some valuable information on the amount and types of emigration from Finland in recent years.
  2. United States Annual Report of the commissioner General of Immigration (United States Department of Labor), 1920-1930. These reports give detailed statistics on the number of immigrants in the United States and information as to their vocations, health, and general condition.
  3. United States Census (Bureau of the Census of the Department of Commerce) 1910, 1920, 1930. So much use is made of the census in general that any specific references would be of little use in this bibliography.


Appended to this bibliography is part of the correspondence from which the writer received information as to sources on the subject. They are listed in three sections, including the United States Government, the Canadian Government, and private individuals. The writing of letters to these correspondents took more time than did the reading of the material which was finally gathered. Some of the letters have been quoted in the work. Most of them are self-explanatory and are underlined in some cases to make them easier to read. They show the necessity for using both the English and Finnish languages throughout the work.


Chapter I

1 Ripley, William Z., The Races of Europe (London, 1913), p. 366.

2 Howard-Ellis G., The origin, Structure, and Working of the League of Nations (London, 1928), p. 150.

Chapter II

3 Rauanheimo, Akseli, Before William Penn (Philadelphia, 1929), Introduction.

4 Ward. C., The Dutch and Swedes on the Delaware (Philadelphia, 1930), p. 104.

5 Johnson, Amandus, The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware (New York, 1911), vol. I, p. 634.

6 Ward, op. cit., p. 69.

7 Johnson, op. cit., vol. I. p. 345.

8 Ibid., vol. I. p. 31.

9 Ibid., vol. I. p. 31.

10 Ilmonen, S., Amerikan Ensimmaiset Suomalaiset (Hancock, Mich., 1916), p. 100.

11 Ibid., pp. 92-97.

12 Ibid., p. 70.

13 Armstrong, Edward, ed., The Record of the Court at Upland (Philadelphia, 1860), p. 36.

14 Buck, William J., William Penn in America (Philadelphia, 1888), p. 39.

15 Ibid., p. 148.

16 Kalm, Peter, Travels into North America. John Reinhold Foster, ed., (London, 1772), vol. I. pp. 48 and 68.

17 Ibid., p. 55.

18 Ilmonen, op. cit., p. 95.

19 Rauanheimo, op. cit., Introduction.

20 United States Daily, August 4, 1931, (Washington), p. 8.

21 Aho Juhani, Aatteiden Mies (Porvoossa, 1901), pp. 192-260, passim.

22 Van Cleef, Eugene, The Finn in America (New York, 1918), p. 4.

23 Ilmonen, S., Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia (Hancock, Mich., 1923), vol. II, p. 30.

24 Wargelin, John, The Americanization of the Finns (Hancock, Mich., 1924), p. 53.

25 Ilmonen, op. cit., vol. II, p. 25.

26 Hedges, James B., "Colonization Work of the Northern Pacific Railroad" Miss. Valley Historical Review (1926), p. 323.

27 Ilmonen, op. cit., vol. II, p. 34.

28 Reports of the Consular Officers of the United States (Washington, 1887), p. 325.

29 Ilmonen, op. cit., vol. II, p. 37.

30 Wargelin, op. cit., p. 57.

31 Hull, Harry E., Letter from the Commissioner General of Immigration (September 21, 1931).

32 Annual Report of the Commissioner General of Immigration, 1930 (Washington, 1930), p. 11.

33 Ibid., p. 57.

34 Ibid., p. 78.

35 Ibid., pp. 104-105.

36 Ibid., p. 84.

37 Ibid., pp. 108-109.

Chapter III

38 Wargelin, op. cit., p. 74.

39 Van Cleef, Eugene, Finland, the Republic Farthest North (Columbus, Ohio, 1929), p. 197.

40 The story as told by the writer's father.

41 Union Fishermen's Co-operative Packing Co., Astoria, Oregon, Letter of Dec. 10, 1931.

42 Ilmonen, S., Amerikan Suomalaisten Sivistyshistoria (Hancock, Mich., 1930), vol. I, pp. 160-164.

43 Bureau of the Census, Press Release, Population U.S. -- 15 (Sep. 22, 1931).

44 Carpenter and Niles, Immigrants and Their Children, 1920, Census Monographs VII (Washington, 1927), p. 132.

45 Ibid., p. 372.

46 Ibid., pp. 373-374.

47 Van Cleef, The Finn in America, p. 2.

48 Wargelin, op. cit., p. 70.

49 Van Cleef, op. cit., p. 11 ff.

Chapter IV

50 Odhe, Thorsten, Finland, a Nation of Co-operators. John Downie, ed., (London, 1931), pp. 26-29.

51 Wold Almanac (New York, 1930), p. 648.

52 The Interpreter, March 1, 1928.

53 Yearbook of the Co-operative League of the United States (New York, 1931), pp. 148-156.

54 Ibid., pp. 75-77.

55 Ibid., p. 88.

56 Peterson, Miss Johanna S., Letter, Nov. 13, 1931. "The Finns contributed Matti Helenius - Seppala to the temperance movement. He was an international figure. Secretary Kellogg wrote to his wife after his death. 'In your husband I met a truly great man.'"

Chapter V

57 World Almanac, (1930), p. 653.

58 Pearson, P. H., Schools of Scandinavia, Finland, and Holland, Department of Interior, Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1919, number 29, p. 64.

59 Ilmonen, A. S. Sivistyshistoria, vol. II, p. 214.

60 Wargelin, op. cit., p. 105.

61 Ilmonen, A. S. Sivistyshistoria, vol. II, p. 157.

62 Ibid., p. 159.

63 Johanna S. Peterson, a graduate of the University of Indiana, is now teaching at the University of Turku in Finland.

64 Jaakko Mikkola, former coach of the Finnish Olympic track team, is now at Harvard University.

65 Uno Savola, a graduate of the University of Helsingfors, studied at the University of Wisconsin in 1931. His expenses were paid by a large Finnish wood-pulp corporation. The writer talked with him in person while he was at Gloucester, Mass. and was told about the school system of Finland by one who knew of its workings from experience.

66 Ilmonen, A. S. Sivistyshistoria, vol. I, pp. 15-20, 57-72.

67 Kirkollinen Kalenteri, p. 215.

68 The Boston Evening Globe, Aug. 26, 1931, p. 1.

69 Ilmonen, A. S. Sivistyshistoria, vol. I, pp. 173-177, 189-195; Wargelin, op. cit., pp. 114-126.

70 Park, Robert E., The Immigrant Press and Its Control (New York, 1922), p. 313.

71 Ibid., p. 306.

72 Van Cleef, The Finns in America, p. 24.

73 Tallmarge, Thomas E., The Story of American Architecture (New York, 1931), pp. 290-291.

Chapter VI

74 Garis, R. L., Immigration Restriction (New York, 1927), p. 226.

75 Carpenter and Niles, op. cit., p. 262.

76 Niemi, Clemens, Americanization of the Finns in Houghton County (Duluth, Wisc., 1921), p. 16.

77 Park, op. cit., p. 77.

78 Ilmonen, A. S. Sivistyshistoria, vol. II, p. 8; Major General C. H. Bridges, Letter, Feb. 12, 1932.

79 Roosevelt, Theodore, Autobiography (New York, 1927), p. 155.

80 Who's Who. A. N. Marquis, ed. (Chicago, 1930), vol. 16, p. 1329.

81 Ilmonen, A. S. Sivistyshistoria, vol. II, p. 143.

The thesis is published in 1932.

[ Beginning of article ]