Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Update on Projects and Challenge Accepted

Busy, busy, with most folks this time of year, things are hectic. I'll detail two of the projects that I am involved with below, but first an update on Challenge Accepted: it has appeared on the Michigan State Press author pages and this is a link to that site: The book is also available from (among other sellers) at: The book will come out sooner from Michigan State University Press, but the release date on amazon is May 1, "Vapaus" very fitting for a book about the cultural and labor history of a working class group.

Now, to two projects I have been lucky enough to become associated with:

1) Writing the forward to a Journal of Finnish Studies edition regarding Finnish American labor history and folklore. This edition of the Journal of Finnish Studies promises to be a really interesting (as the all are), inter-disciplinary look at Finnish Americans and working class culture in the labor movement. The article authors for this edition are experts in this field, and I'm really excited to be associated with the work. Articles are being contributed by Dr. James P. Leary, a professor of folklore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has a number of classic (and really humorous) books about folklore in the Upper Midwest. Also, two PhD students in the Madison folklore program are contributing articles, Hilary Virtanen and Tim Frandy. Both, really good folklorists who have roots in the UP and northern Wisconsin.

Last, but not least, a friend and labor historian from Aberdeen, Washington, Aaron Goings, is contributing an article. Aaron just finished his PhD dissertation on the social and labor history of the Grays Harbor, Washington, area, all 500 pages of it! Finns factor greatly in his research and writing, so hopefully his dissertation gets published soon, and his article for this edition of the Journal examines aspects of the Finnish American labor movement in this region.

I already kind of have the hook for the forward, which is that the articles in the edition all center on the creation of working class literacy...beyond something like teaching immigrants the basics of reading and writing, to an expanded literacy of what it meant to be class conscious. This is what the Industrial Workers of the World or "Wobbly" songs and culture were in essence doing, and something that the authors of the articles really bring forth in their research and writing. I think the issue promises to be an outstanding edition of the Journal of Finnish Studies, which is edited by Dr. Beth Virtanen, who is a visiting scholar at Finlandia University.

2) This project is an article for a book of articles relating to ethnicity in the Upper Peninsula and is being edited by Hilary Virtanen (see above). I am writing an article on the importance of Finn Halls in the Upper Peninsula, and have decided to concentrate on labor halls in Marquette, Negaunee, Rock (or Maple Ridge), and Hancock. Through this process I have had the chance to visit the archives at Northern Michigan University in Marquette and have found that they have a great collection of materials regarding the Rock Workers' and Co-op Hall. Equally exciting, the archivist there, Marcus Robbins, knows that it is a great collection and is looking into ways to make the material more accessible to the public. This truly unique collection from Rock has a great home at Northern!

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