Thursday, April 9, 2009

Finns in Michigan Feedback

I've been getting some really good feedback regarding Finns in Michigan. Some is complimentary, some is content/ideological critique and one is a correction. I'm especially thankful for the correction because despite my rather hairy facial appearance (still got the winter growth) I'm human and as the old saying goes humans are known to make mistakes. I like to know when I've got something factually wrong. I'm going to channel Kwai Chang Caine from that great 1970s TV show, Kung Fu, put away pride, and write that I've made a mistake.

In an email, a person pointed out that I had misidentified a member of the noteworthy Mannerheim family of Finland. I identified a Mannerheim visiting Calumet in 1904 as the Mannerheim that later became President of Finland...not so.

The person who notified me about the correction was kind enough to write:

"I would like to point out one case of mistaken identity. On page 10, I read 'Carl Gustav Mannerheim, future leader of the Finns versus the Soviets in the famous Winter War and eventual president of Finland, sought exile in Calumet.' I knew that this could not be so, because he was in Russia during this time, as well as before and after. In 1887 Carl Gustav Mannerheim entered cavalry school in St. Petersburg and left two years later with the rank of second lieutenant. Two years later he was given a position with the Chevalier Guards (the Czarina’s squadron). The Chevalier guards went to Moscow in 1896 for the coronation of Nicholas II, and Mannerheim was chosen to be one of four officers who lined the steps leading to the thrones during the service. In 1893 he was promoted Lieutenant of the Guards, and to Second Captain in 1899."

"When the Russo-Japanese war broke out in 1904 Mannerheim asked for and received a transfer to an outfit that was being sent to the front. He returned to Russia a colonel, with three decorations. Later he was chosen to lead a fact-finding tour to Central Asia and China in 1906-08. Upon return from Asia he was stationed in Poland, where he was promoted to general. He returned to Finland in December 1917."

"There was a Carl Mannerheim who visited Calumet, but it was not the Baron Carl Gustav. Count Carl Mannerheim Sr. had seven children of whom four were boys. According to a custom of that time at least three of them carried the first name of Carl, their father’s first name: they were Carl, the Count (only the eldest son could inherit the title of Count) , Carl Gustav Emil, the future Marshall, and Carl Fridolf Johan. The Count aggravated Bobrikov with his passive resistance and was exiled. He died in Stockholm in 1915. I can find no reference to his having visited in the U.S. so it must not have played a significant part in his life."


Thank you emailer for the correction.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Encyclopedia of American Labor History

I am very excited to have a small part in a really great labor history project, spearheaded by the outstanding labor historian Melvyn Dubofsky, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University, SUNY. This 3 volume work, The Encyclopedia of American Labor History, is being published by Facts on File out of New York. Melvyn is the editor and labor historians Colin Davis, University of Alabama at Birmingham and John Stoner, Binghamton University, are the Assistant Editors.

I do not know if they have a date for when the work will be published, but I would think that it will be available within the next two be on the look out for it. I'm very excited about the project and a resource like this is way overdue for American labor history. Additionally, having a labor historian like Melvyn Dubofsky edit the work is great...he was one of the early advocates of the New Labor History and his book on the IWW, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World is a labor history classic (get the unabridged version if you can).

According to the editors, "The Encyclopedia is projected for use by a wide audience of non-history professionals and non-specialists. Its most likely users will be secondary school and community college students and general readers with an interest in the subject matter who will find it available at their local libraries."

Looks to be truly a peoples' resource.

I have the good fortune to be contributing five entries. They are:

1907 and 1916 Minnesota Iron Ore Strikes
1913-14 Michigan Copper Miners Strike and Italian Hall
Work Peoples' College, Smithville (Duluth), Minnesota
Gus Hall (Arvo Halberg), former General Secretary of the CP-USA
Leo Laukki, Finnish immigrant leader of the "Finn Wobblies"

For more information on the project and how to contribute, visit: