Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Another Review of Finns...

The following review appeared in the October 2014 issue of CHOICE:

North America 52-1020 E184 2013-12249 CIP

Finns in the United States: a history of settlement, dissent, and integration, ed. by Auvo Kostiainen. Michigan State, 2014. 342p ISBN 9781611861068 pbk, $34.95.

This collection of articles covering the Finnish ethnic experience in the US presents the historiography of the subject along with discussion of racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic identity and the difference between Finnish American and Finnish views. Most contributions are solid in quality. Finns were originally classed as being of the Mongolian race and denied naturalization. Assimilation eased when Finns were officially made "white Europeans" by US courts. Finns first arrived at New Sweden (1638-1655). Much of Finnish roots history was lost, mislaid, and destroyed in parish church fires. Most Finns lived in Sweden as burn beaters before immigrating to the US, so identifying ethnic Finnish immigrants from surviving Swedish records was an additional difficulty. By the late 19th century, Finns led in the development of rural cooperatives and extension education. To help themselves, they formed mutual fire insurance cooperatives, dairies and stores, and accident, savings and credit, and death benefit organizations. Unions provided education for the management of co-ops. Ethnic identity is the unifying core of these studies. By the 1940s, the Finnish community was a shadow of its former self. Post-1970s transnational new arrivals have not mixed with the descendants of early immigrants.

--D. J. Shepherd, Independent Scholar
Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.

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