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Finnish Newspapers and Periodicals in Michigan

John Ilmari Kolehmainen

Heidelberg College, Tiffin, Ohio

The time for a definitive history of Finnish newspapers and periodicals in Michigan has not yet arrived. The primary task of historical scholarship is to unearth, catalogue, and preserve the extant physical resources. This article suggests some, but not all, of the rich materials awaiting discovery and preservation; the scholarly analysis of the immigrant press and its significant contributions to Finnish culture in the state must wait the completion of this pioneering work.

The settlement of the Finnish people in Michigan stems back to the late Civil War period.1 In 1864 a handful of Finnish immigrants, along with a larger group of Scandinavians, arrived at Hancock from Norway to whence the Finns had earlier migrated from their homeland; employment had been assured them in the rising copper industry in Northern Michigan. The following years witnessed a swelling stream of migrants coming from Finnish settlements in Norway and Sweden and after 1870 directly from Finland. Dispersion of the Finns was taking place simultaneously; new settlements appeared elsewhere in the Copper Country, in Calumet, Ironwood, Ishpeming, and Franklin. Many immigrants, moreover, took to the rural areas where they resumed the familiar work of tilling the soil. By 1873 it was estimated that there were over 1000 foreign-born Finns in the Copper Country; by 1900 the figure had been increased nearlly nineteen fold, to 18,910. The close of the following decade saw the number of foreign-born at 31,144, the last (1930) census revealed some 27,000 foreign-born Finns in the state, with heaviest settlement in the counties of Houghton (5957), Marquette (3612), Wayne (3218), Gogebic (3l29), Ontonagon (1790), Iron (1521), and Baraga (1232).

With the resumption in the seventies of normal institutional life in the New Wor1d, made possible by the increasing migration of Finns into the state and manifested by the organization of churches and temperance societies, a number of the more enterprising immigrants began to feel the need for a Finnish language newspaper. Desires were soon translated into deeds for, indeed, at least five journalistic ventures were attempted during the period l870-79; the following decade saw the birth of two newspapers. Years of heavy immigration made it possible for fourteen journals to make an appearance during 1890-99 and ten during 1900-09. That the flourishing period of Finnish journalism in the state had been reached in the years 1890-1909 is attested in the fact that since 1910 only four new organs were started. Most of these journalistic ventures were, of course, shortlived; the Finnish language press, like that of other foreign groups, has been unable to resist the encroachment of American enterprise.

These interesting Finnish immigrant newspapers and periodicals are listed below, chronologically and with as much pertinent information as this writer has been able to collect. It scarcely need be reiterated that the task of discovering and arranging for the preservation of the physical survivals of the publications merits the whole-hearted cooperation of immigrant groups, local and state historical societies.

Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti (1876)

This was undouptedly the first Finnish language newspaper in America, making its apperance at Hancock on April 14, 1876. Its founder and editor was A. J. Muikku, a Finn who had been called to the community to serve as pastor. The organ was published twice weekly, with four pages to each issue; circulation, however, was very small and the pioneer paper was destined to exist for but some eleven-fourteen issues. Its creator, nonetheless, won for himself the title of "Father of Finnish Newspapers in America''.

Lehtinen (1876)

After the failure of the Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti, A. J. Muikku published a few numbers of a newspaper known as the Lehtinen. With the early collapse of this venture, the journalistic career of Muikku came to an end; he died in Hancock in 1877 at the age of thirty-one.

Swen Tuuva (1878)

This organ appeared in early February, 1878, at Houghton (some scholars have suggested Hancock as its place of publication) under the guidance of Matti Fred and Fred Karinen as a four page weekly. The paper, handicapped by the former's inadequate command of Finnish, lingered between life and death for several years, finally succumbing in 1880.

Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti (1879)

Under the editorship of the well-known Alex Leinonen and published by the Finnish Book Company organized in 1879 at Calumet, this four page weekly made its first appearance on July 4 of the same year. During its early history the paper attained a peak circulation of 800 and served as the mouthpiece of a number of Lutheran groups. Not long after its establishment the weekly became the sole property of Leinonen who, in 1892, sold it to Victor Burman. The latter transferred the paper to Hancock where he was successful in increasing its circulation to 3000. In 1894, however, Burman moved to Chicago where the paper soon went into bankruptcy. Burman later returned to the Copper Country and resumed his newspaper career.

Suometar (1879)

A weekly appearing in Calumet, begun in 1879 as an independent organ under the editorship of Helmer Grape and published by the Finnish Printing Company. In 1903 it was merged with the Amerikan Sanomat of Ashtabula, Ohio.

Sankarin Maine (1880)

When Swen Tuuva (see above) failed, Matti Fred moved his printing enterprise to Hancock where, in 1880, he launched a new paper, the Sankarin Maine. This, as its predecessor, was short-lived; by the close of 1882 the journalistic activity of Fred had come to an end.

Kansan Lehti (Uusi Kansan Lehti) (1889)

A weekly begun in November, 1889, at Calumet by the wellknown Finnish newspaperman Ino Ekman. The organ ceased publication after about a year; it was received for a short time by D. Suoranen who issued it under the title of the Uusi Kansan Lehti.

Tyomies (1889)

The Finnish National Temperance Brotherhood resolved at its annual covention in 1889 to contribute to the establishment of a newspaper that might also serve as the mouthpiece of the rapidly developing temperance movement. The result was the Tyomies published at Ishpeming (Calumet?) under the editorship of Fred Karinen. The sponsors and the editor soon parted company with the Brotherhood withdrawing its financial support. Within several years Karinen moved the paper to Minneapolis where it was merged with August Edward's Yhdysvaltain Sanomat to form the Amerikan Uutiset.

Kalevan Kaiku (1890)

A weekly established in 1890 by Hannes Hela of Calumet. After competing with the Kansan Lehti (above) for a time, it was merged with the Amerikan Uutiset which Fred Karinen moved from Minneapolis to Calumet in 1893.

Kalevala (1890?)

A short-lived organ appering in Calumet under the editorship of K. Korte.

Pilkkakirves (1890?)

Evidently a humor sheet published in Ironwood by a wellknown Finnish journalist, J. W. Lähde. Its life span was extremely short.

Paivan Uutiset (1891)

This paper, published at Calumet by Ino Ekman, was the first daily among the Finnish people in Michigan. Ekman also issued a weekly edition of the paper as the Viikon Uutiset. It is doubtful that either survived a year.

Raittius Lehti (1892)

In 1892 two of the foremost temperance leaders in the state, J. H. Jasberg and Isaac Sillberg, established a monthly, by name Raittiuslehti devoted to the crusade against Demon Rum. It was taken over the same year by the Finnish National Temperance Brotherhood whose official organ it became. It continued to appear regularly for nearly twenty years under the imprint of the temperance organization, first as a monthly and later as a bimonthly. Its circulation was fairly high; in 1911, for example, the number of readers was estimated at 7000. The Brotherhood, moreover, has for many years published an annual compendium and calendar known as the Raittiuskalenteri.

Wainola (1892)

A short-lived weekly begun in 1892 by K. Korte (who earlier had attempted to launch the Kalevala) at Calumet.

Kirkkokunnan Lehti (1892)

A religious weekly founded at Ironwood in 1892 by the Rev. J. W. Eloheimo. It was used by the colorful preacher as the official mouthpiece of his Fenno-American Church. Although its circulation attained a figure of 600, the weekly did not long endure.

Siionin Sanomat (1893)

A spiritual monthly of the Finnish Laestadionian movement establishment at Calumet (?) in 1893. Its editor was H. Coller; its life span, six years.

Kalevala (1894)

A weekly for "Workers and Farmers," begun at Ironwood in 1894 with J. W. Lähde, pastors J. W. Eloheimo and J. Reinikka as editors. It ceased publication after several years.

Kuparisaaren Sanomat (1894)

A weekly newspaper appearing at Hancock under the editorship of Emil Hendrickson and published by the Finnish News Publishing Company. A year after its founding, the paper became the property of Victor Burman; its name was changed to the Amerikan Suomalainen under whisch title it continued to appear until 1899.

Paivan Uutiset (1898)

A daily newspaper begun by Fred Karinen at Calumet in 1898. Its editor was Kalle Haapakoski; the organ appeared for only a few numbers.

Amerikan Suometar (1899)

This is one of the few surviving Finnish language newspapers in the country. It was established at Hancock in June, 1899, by the Revs. K. L. Tolonen, J. K. Nikander and John Back, each of whom was closely associated with the Suomi Synod (Lutheran) Church. In 1900 the newspaper became the property of the church under whose direction it has continued to appear to the present day. Religious in its approach, the Amerikan Suometar has been an influential force among the Finns in the state. Its circulation in 1914 was 4500; in 1921, 6000; and in 1935, 4815. It appears at the present time as a tri-weekly. The Synod has, in addition, published a number of other religious periodicals as the Lasten Lehti (1892 et seq.); Paimen Sanomia (1889 et seq.); Nuorten Ystava (1915 et seq.); Kirkollinen Kalenteri (1903 et seq.); and Joululehti (1894 et seq.)

Paivalehti (1901)

The influentia Paivalehti, which continues to appear at Duluth, Minnesota, was started by Kalle Haapakoski in the spring of 1901 at Calumet. In 1914 the daily was moved to its present location in Duluth. Among its editors have been such capable journalists as N. J. Ahlman, Severi Nyman, Into Teljo, and Antero Riippa. Its circulation prior to its removal to Minnesota was 1800 in 1904; 4286 in 1909; and 7410 in 1912.

Todistuksen Joukko (1901)

This religious bi-monthly, one of the first publications of the Finnish American Ev. Lutheran National Church, was begun in 1901 at Calumet with the Rev. W. A. Mandellöf as its editor. Near the close of its four year existence (when it was replaced by the Auttaja), the organ was transformed into a weekly, appearing in Ironwood under the guidance of the Rev. M. Kivi.

Kansan Kuvalehti (1902)

A short-lived pictorial monthly published at Hancock by N. J. Ahlman, K. Arminen, and E. Aaltio.

Kansan Lehti (1903)

A weekly begun at Ironwood in 1903 with Aku Päiviö as editor. It was very closely associated with the Finnish National Church movement during its two year existence.

Tyomies (Amerikan Suomalainen) (1903)

The Tyomies, one of the most significant of the Finnish working-class papers in America, was begun in 1903 at Worcester, Massachusetts. In the following year, however, it was moved to Hancock and later to Superior, Wisconsin. One of the earliest torch bearers of Socialism, the paper (which in 1910 became a daily) was a very important force in the development of the immigrant labor movement. Ususally blessed with effective editorial leadership, the Tyomies attained a fairly respectable circulation: 1903, 700; 1908, 5500; 1910, 10,000; 1920, 15,896; and 1935, 11,121. At the time when the Tyomies was appearing in Hancock, its sponsors, the Finnish Socialist Federation, were also publishing a number of periodicals: Työväen Kalenteri (1905-); Koyhaliston Nuija (1906-); Soihtu (1905-); Sakenia (1907-); and a very interesting humor sheet, the widely-read Lapatossu (1909-).

Vapaasana (1903)

A weekly of "sosialistic tendencies" begun at Ironwood in 1903. Among the editors of this short-lived paper were Santeri Mäkelä and J. W. Lilius.

Naisten Lehti (1903)

This periodical, addressed specifically to Finnish immigrant women, was started in 1903 at Calumet by a leading feminist, Maggie Walz. It claimed to be the successor to the Naisten Lehti established by Hanna Järnefelt at Brooklyn in 1898. The life span off the journal was short.

Rauhan Airut (1904)

A spiritual monthly that was published in Ironwood during the years 1904-06. Edited by the Revs. G. A. Hilden and Hjalmari Salmi, the periodical was devoded to the cause of Finnish Methodism in the New World.

Auttaja (Auttaja Meidan Ilomme) (1905)

This weekly is the official organ of the Finnish American Ev. Lutheran National Church. It was founded in late 1905 at Ironwood by the officials of the church and its editors have usually been drafted from the ranks of the clergy, as the Revs. P. Vuori, K. E. Salonen, and W. N. Westerback. The Auttaja has enjoyed a fairly wide circle of readers among the communicants of the church: in 1900 it had 2300, subscribers; in 1914, 1750; in 1920, 3000; and in 1935, 1800. The National Church, as other immigrant religious bodies, has been active in publishing a variety of spiritual peiodicals; among these may be noted the Armon Sanomia, Kansalliskirkon Kalenteri, Lasten Ystava, Paasiais Ilo, Huutava Aani, Syyslehti, and Joulurauha.

Aura (1914)

A monthly, circulating among the rural Finns, begun in 1914 at Hancock by the Finnish Lutheran Book Concern. This agricultural periodical manifested some evidence of vitality, surviving until the middle twenties. Its circulation in 1920 was 1100; in 1923, 1200.

Valvoja (1915)

In the fall of 1915 S. Mustanen and others organized the Finnish Republican Printing Company at Calumet and shortly began to issue a bi-weekly newspaper, the Valvoja. Among its editors have been Victor Burman, Kalle Haapakoski, Eetu Aaltio, Into Teljo, Jussi Hinkkanen, and R. W. Suojanen. The paper receives its strongest support from the Apostolic Lutheran and Repubican groups in Northern Michigan; its circulation in 1921 was 9000; in 1926, 6800; in 1932, 8426; and in 1935, 8163.

Koitto (1918)

A short-lived monthly begun in 1918 by the Finnish National Temperance Brotherhood.

Opas (1930)

A Republican tri-weekly newspaper begun at Calumet in 1930 under the editorship of Victor Burman and published by the Copper Country Printing Company. It reported a circulation of 5400 in 1932, 6540 in 1935.

1 S. Ilmonen, Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia, I (1923), 66. There is no history of the Finnish language press in America of which this writer has knowledge. The following published works contain scattered materials about Finnish immigrant newspapers and periodicals in Michigan: Akseli Järnefelt, Suomalaiset Amerikassa (1899); William Rautanen, Amerikan Suomalainen Kirkko (1911); Juhla-Julkaisu Suomalaisen Kansallis Raittius Veljeysseuran 25 Vuotisen Toiminnan Muistoksi (1912): Amerikan Suometar, Muistojulkaisu, 1899-1919; S. Ilmonen, Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia (1919-1926) and Amerikan Suomalaisten Sivistyshistoria (1930-1931); K. E. Salonen, Amerikan Suomalainen Ev. Lut. Kansalliskirkon 25 Vuotis Julkaisu (1923); and J. Wargelin, Americanization of the Finns (1924). For a sketch of Finnish newspapers in Ohio, see the writer's "Finnish Newspapers in Ohio", Ohio Historical and Arch. Quarterly, April, 1939.

Published in the Michigan History Magazine, Vol. 24, 1940, p. 119-127.

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