The Project

 About This Project: Kerrin McTernan and Patrick Driscoll from Keene State College, Keene, NH.

This project comes as a result of coursework from the COPLACDigital course: Cultural Crossroads. To find more information about the course and about COPLACDigital click here.

This project aims to make local history more robust and accessible to the public. We chose to focus our research on the Finns in Newport, New Hampshire because so little has been done before on the subject.  While Olli Turpeinen’s book, The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire is an impressive compilation of information regarding the Finns in this area, he admits that his work is hardly the entire story of Finnish history in Newport. Other sources that focus on the Finns in Newport rely on Turpeinen’s The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire. That is where we come in with the information on this site.

There is no developed digital history of the Finns in New Hampshire. None of this information has been put on the internet before, and we want to bring this information to a wider audience to inspire others to conduct research on their own towns and make historical knowledge more robust and local histories more visible.  

This website provides tools and information for researchers, educators, and anyone interested to continue the discussion of local migrant histories through sharing in-depth timelines, descriptions, and photos. More importantly, it provides a benchmark for others to start doing research in their own towns and cities.

The photographs section is critical because it provides a treasure trove of the physical appearance of Finnish immigrants in Newport and an indication of their lives there. One of our goals is to create an avenue to complete the history of these Finnish inhabitants of Newport by sharing these photos. Because there are often no names and details of the individuals pictured in these photos,  their stories have therefore been made invisible to most of the world, and we hope to close that gap between truth and documentation.

But why Newport, New Hampshire? After all it is a rather small town that is not well known even to many people from New Hampshire and certainly not at all to anyone outside of the state. At the very least, we were barely familiar with the town before the start of their project. That was part of the attraction to this project, how so little was done before yet so many people around the world have their small towns that have big impact on them. These small towns are part of the bedrock that define a nation’s character as much as large cities define countries such as New York City for the United States or London for the United Kingdom for example.

The United States was built, quite literally, by immigrants who arrived in the 19th and early 20th century, and Finns were a part of that immigration history. The Finns immigrant population may have been much smaller in numbers than such groups as the Irish, but the individual Finnish immigrant contributed just as much as the individual Irish immigrant. While many Finns migrated out of the area, this project focuses mainly on the Finnish immigrants who stayed in Newport for generations.

Without further ado, it is time to begin a journey through the story of a niche group of Finnish immigrants in Newport, New Hampshire…

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