Saturday, April 3, 2010

FinnForum IX Update

The Wage Slave's masthead from 1908. From Michigan Tech's Copper Country Historical Archive in the Garden Level of the JRVP Library.

FinnForum IX is quickly approaching (May 26-27, 2010). Thought I'd post an explanation of my conference paper topic, which is tentatively titled "Forging a Unique Solidarity: Finnish Immigrant Socialists and the Early 20th Century Socialist Party of America":

Finnish immigrants are often thought of as clannish outsiders in the Socialist Party of America’s (SPA) Finnish language federation, but research into early Socialist Party of America sources reveals the immersion of Finnish immigrant leaders and rank-and-file into the greater U.S. socialist movement. The prominence of Finns in the U.S. socialist movement is displayed in English language print media dated 1908, which announces creation of the Finnish Translator's Office located in the Chicago, Illinois, national headquarters of the Socialist Party of America. The success of this office in converging “two proletarian worlds” is demonstrated by the 1914 election of three Finnish immigrants to prominent posts in the Socialist Party of Michigan.

Additionally, the integration of the Työmies Publishing Company's presses and staff while in Hancock, Michigan, for use by English language media such as the Wage Slave (the newspaper of Michigan's state Socialist Party), and the Miner's Bulletin (the newspaper of striking workers during the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Miners' Strike) demonstrated the uniting of resources between Finnish immigrant socialists and their U.S. counterparts. Työmies also published Finnish translations of English language books, translated and published English labor songs in Finnish language songbooks, and translated English language material for periodicals and newspaper articles. Perhaps the most prolific of U.S. media influences was the work of American socialist cartoonists such as Art Young and Ryan Walker. However, the move to join the U.S. socialist and labor movement occurred while Finnish immigrants made a strident attempt to maintain a sense of ethnic identity through media forms and the treasured Finn Hall culture.