A Fruitful Experience

An Excerpt from my Final Reflections on COPLAC

I believe I learned more about immigration in this class than I ever possibly could have in a typical on-campus class. I say this for several reasons. One reason is the way we were allowed to immerse ourselves in a very specific topic for an extended period of time. Another reason was that the subject was local to us, making it more engaging. Next was the method of research that was encouraged. Our research consisted of talking to real people, visiting related locations several times, reaching out to scholars and historians, and gaining access to otherwise inaccessible resources. Moreover, we were able to share the in-depth knowledge we were gaining on a public platform and in a creative way. Lastly, we were able to listen to similar personal stories from our colleagues all around the nation to learn the intimate immigrant histories in various states. This class approached content and pedagogy completely differently than the average college class and I was able to gain so much sophisticated information about local immigration histories from this unorthodox experience.

The immigrant/migrant group Patrick and I focused on was the Finns in Newport, New Hampshire. As I stated before, once we chose to study this group of immigrants, we became completely immersed in the subject. We visited Newport several times to hang out for hours at the library, to visit what was left of the sites we had learned about in our research, and to talk with locals of Newport about what they knew about Finnish history in their area. We took pictures, scanned primary sources, and on top of it all we had a great time. This brought our research to life. We connected with historians that studied similar topics, also invigorating our research. Patrick and I were in contact almost 24/7 sharing our thoughts and discoveries. By the end of the semester I really did feel like an expert in this subject. This is a foreign concept to me as most college classes simply scrape the surface of many subjects and have a focused paper or two, but that’s about the extent of it. In becoming an expert in this subject I felt like I was doing something important.

Studying and sharing information about the Finns of Newport, New Hampshire was important to us because the little bit of information that is out there already is extremely hard to access. By putting this on a digital platform and utilizing the technology of WordPress to make the platform engaging and user-friendly we made an otherwise fading history more visible. I genuinely have hope that this website will make a difference for others beyond just Patrick and I. In the future, I plan to post my lesson plans regarding the topic on the site as well, and I would be so pleased if even one educator used the lesson plans to teach students about niche local histories. Building that sense of community is so very important.

At the end of the day, this COPLAC class had its own unique culture and community that could never be repeated or replaced. I have made valuable connections with people from a diverse array of backgrounds and from many different locations. All of these individuals have proven themselves to be reliable, respectful, and intelligent. I have developed a relationship with someone on my campus whom I probably would never have had a friendship with otherwise, and we have hopes to potentially seek grants to continue our research on the Finns in the future. The nature of the conversations in this class were supportive and robust, and product of the intense research and blogging is an impressive website that I am proud of. I genuinely could not be more pleased with this experience and I will be forever grateful.


Although I still have plenty of work to dedicate to our site, I am genuinely beginning to feel like we are going to create something that I can be very proud of. Frank Eld, a fellow researcher of the Finns who we are going to have a meeting with on Saturday, has viewed our work and he commented that he was very impressed with the site. It was very rewarding to hear that from someone who has written and is in the process of writing books about the Finns. Furthermore, he has stated that he is impressed with our choice to make visible the history of the Finns in Newport, New Hampshire even though we are not Finnish. For me, this was a really important comment because I strongly believe that it is important to engage with the cultures that exist around you and in your world.  That is exactly the purpose of this project, to open our minds to what might be right next to us but that we have yet to really see. During our meeting with Frank on Saturday I expect the conversation about each other’s research to be enriching for all who are involved.

I have really enjoyed the journey through this COPLAC class and my specific project on the Finns. Nonetheless, these next few weeks, while vigorous, might be what I am truly most excited for. I genuinely enjoy watching our project come to life with purpose. I feel like we are expressing our skills in a creative, communicative, and collaborative way and like I have said before, these are the things that make me proud to be a historian and an educator.

Project Site Development pII.

As we continue to chip away at our project, Patrick and I are discovering the excitement of sharing new information on digital platforms and we are making more connections between our research information and the goals we have in sharing the Finnish story. Although the history of the Finns in America is largely untold, I did happen upon one man who has been searching for remnant of Finnish log cabins in Idaho and even in our local area, the Monadnock Region. This was exciting to me because there is someone else who is passionate about telling the story of the Finns. I discovered that log cabins were one of the large contributions made by the Finns. Digging Deeper, I found that this man was in the process of creating a book on the Finns in America, expected to be published in 2018. I reached out to him via LinkedIn and to my surprise I got a response in quick time. We are currently emailing back and forth about our projects! How exciting.

On another note, I am beginning to have lots of fun in the development of our project site. I find pleasure in creating user-friendly digital tools, especially keeping in mind that I hope for younger generations to be able to navigate these types of sites in order to discover the different ways they can use technology to support their learning. That being said, I am still struggling to brainstorm the best way to make lesson plans to make learning about the Finns worthwhile. Nonetheless, I am confident that the lesson plans will be a great addition to our project and a great way to put my skills to use.

Project Site Development

As we chip away at our project site and research we continue to discover dates that reveal information regarding the Finns in Newport. In some aspects of our site we will synthesize the information to tell a story based on the facts and figures that we believe to be useful. However, it is our hope to provide a history of the Finns in Newport that is as complete as possible. Therefore, we want to create a timeline to document almost all of the dates we have discovered that reveal the story of Finnish immigration. To do this we are creating an incredibly vast timeline. Through the timeline we will tell a detailed story of the Finns in Newport and provide information that might otherwise have no good reason to be documented. We believe it is important to give the public this information so that visitors to the site can find what is useful or interesting to them and have a variety of information to review and discover from.

Creating the timeline is somewhat tedious given the amount of dates that we have compiled thus far, but it is also helpful for us to synthesize our findings, especially given the fact that we have a vast array of resources that we have used throughout our project of developing a more in depth history of the Finns in Newport. Also, the timeline will likely be a useful tool for students and teachers who may use the lesson plans/ educational content provided on our project site. Integrating proper media into the timeline is the next challenge, and I have yet to decide if it is necessary at all to incorporate images and outside links besides citations as I believe it may take away from the clarity of the timeline, which is already going to be heavy with information.

Building a Historical Research Project Website

Patrick and I have really begun to outline, concretely through our project site, what our final project on the Finns of New Hampshire is going to look like. We have begun to develop some specific pages and have decided that we want to make sure the navigation of the website makes sense so as to direct viewers through our story in a logical manner but also to separate different categories of the project so it is easy for a viewer to focus on a specific aspect of our project if they so choose. We plan to outline the background of Newport, New Hampshire before the Finns migration to the area to explain why it is they established their population there. We will also have page(s) dedicated to the Finnish experience in Newport upon and just after their arrival in the late 19th century. We will do our best to explore the lasting impact that they have had on Newport and possibly the entire state of New Hampshire and if necessary create a page for that evaluation. We also plan to compare and contrast Finnish migration to other towns and cities in New Hampshire (and Fitchburg, MA) to establish what it was, if there was anything, that was specifically unique to the relationship between Finns and Newport, New Hampshire. Some parts of our project that we are particularly excited about are the photo page and the lesson plans. The photo page will digitally post the photos we have obtained regarding the Finns in Newport that are and are not directly used throughout the site/project. The reason that we want to include this page other than for the enjoyment of looking at historical photos is to hopefully identify some of the unknown Finnish individuals in Newport, New Hampshire whom we have pictures of and want to make visible. Secondly, we are going to create and make lesson plans available on our site. They will be fully developed Social Studies lesson plans focused on Finnish Migration to New Hampshire. These lesson plans will be free for educators to access if they want to teach about their local migration history. They will be great for students to make connections with history and to work with primary sources. Not only does this create the potential for greater awareness of the cultural crossroads throughout New Hampshire history, but they also provide an interactive component to our research.

The Historian Experience

As an individual who chooses to study history I find the discipline the least thing but boring, however, for the many who cringe at the thought of reading what seems like ancient information and repeatedly attempting to memorize dates and names I want to share a bit about the experience Patrick and I had Friday, September 29th and our experiences since. It has highlighted how interactive the study of history can be and how intersectional and interdisciplinary it is. Interdisciplinary here means that studying history also involves the study of other subjects such as sociology and law among others. When I say intersectional here, I refer to Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge’s definition from their 2016 book Intersectionality:

Intersectionality is a way of understanding and analyzing the complexity in   the world, in people, and in human experiences. The events and conditions of social and political life and the self can seldom be understood as shaped by one factor. They are generally shaped by many factors in diverse and mutually influencing ways. When it comes to social inequality, people’s lives and the organization of power in a given society are better understood as being shaped by not a single axis of social divisions, be it race or gender or class, but by many axes that work together and influence each other.       Intersectionality as an analytical took gives people better access to complexity of the world and themselves [1].

The day of our first visit to Newport we discovered magazines, photographs, and newspapers at the Richards Free Memorial Library. Furthur, we talked with several different employees and visitors of the library to learn about Finnish personality and contribution in the town. In one piece I found that the old Sunapee Temperance Hall turned into Sunapee Bedding. That record was from 2003 or 2004.

Our next stop in Newport was Sunapee St. as it had come about in so many of our sources so far as a popular spot for the Finns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As we traveled further on up the road Patrick found the address for what was Sunapee Bedding, 239 Sunapee St. We ventured to that spot and found a place called Zuzu’s Sandwich and Gifts. Both Patrick and I thought it would be worth it to go into the shop and ask about the building’s history. What we found was an older woman employee, apparently a fill in, for a fill in, for a fill in, who was able to confirm that the building used to be the Finnish Temperance Hall. It felt like we had uncovered an amazing mystery. She allowed us to explore the building, check out the wooden designs that represented Finnish culture and the stage where the Finns would put on shows for those at the hall. This woman also told us that in the recent past she was a realtor in the local area. From her time as a realtor she had become familiar with Finnish housing, and she even told us about the architecture and peculiar traditions in Finnish houses. Even better, she remembered just where one of these houses had been, and she directed us to it.

Patrick and I were pleased to be able to easily find the Finnish house. We knocked on the door, hoping to be able to take a peek inside and find the cabinets that the Woman from Zuzu’s told us about. In these glass cabinets that existed in almost all Finnish houses in between the dining room and living areas, according to this woman, the Finns would hold their most valuable possessions or interesting trinkets. Unfortunately nobody was home but we did take pictures of the exterior of the home and may research if it was true to Finnish culture, which it looked like it very well might have been.

Needless to say, Patrick and I were excited about what we found that day in Newport, New Hampshire. On our way home we discussed how we could use the cemetery records from the library to locate Finns from photographs or from books in the local cemeteries. We talked about our future plans to revisit the area to dive into the sources we found, retrieve copies, and talk with the library historian who we were informed had ample knowledge of Finnish history in Newport. From our field experience Patrick and I also could discuss many different subjects, such as historical and current politics and social issues.

I am so grateful for my partner now because he willingly took another trip to Newport the next Friday, October 6th, and there he discovered even more about the Finns. He successfully connected with the historian Marylou McGuire. She was able to provide Patrick with names of relevant professors and historians for us to contact. Now, digitally speaking, Patrick and I have to begin to organize the research we have compiled and from there develop a website design that makes sense for our project aim. I have been brainstorming lately about creating a website that incorporates different lesson plans or curriculum for local schools to use as local history lessons on the Finns. It would be a great way to incite more awareness of Finnish migrant history.

[1] Hill Collins, Patricia, and Sirma Bilge. 2016. Intersectionality. pages 2-3.

Project Contract Patrick Driscoll and Kerrin McTernan

Project Contract: Finnish Migration History in New Hampshire

Kerrin McTernan and Patrick Driscoll

Keene State College

Project Goals

  • This project aims to explore the Finnish migration and immigration into New Hampshire.


  • The focus will be on towns from Newport, New Hampshire to Fitchburg, Massachusetts.


  • The project is focused on documenting the lives of the Finns in New Hampshire, and what their experience was impacting the state of New Hampshire.


  • Another goal is to see if the Finns still live in the towns they first arrived to in the 1880s, and if their not where did they end up?


  • If we find out they went to other towns and communities outside of New Hampshire and Fitchburg, Massachusetts we will investigate if there is any significance in their change in location such as a push factor and use that research to fuel its weight in the final project.


  • We hope to bring to a wider audience the Finnish experience in New Hampshire.


  • We also hope to contribute to a wider awareness of cultural diversity in a seemingly homogenous state population such as New Hampshire.


Tools to be Used


  • Storymap is a tool that we plan to use to map out the communities the Finns lived in. Storymap will also be used to help locate geographically where these Finnish communities were/are on the map.


  • We also plan to use TimelineJS to illustrate various important chains of events in Finnish migration history in New Hampshire.


  • We plan on using multiple pages on our website to organize information by subject, so that any visitor to the website can explore what interests him or her.


  • We will utilize Twitter in various cases to conduct outward facing research and extend our project to additional platforms.


Goals for Kerrin and Patrick


  • Compile information from primary sources that are mostly from Newport, NH, and secondary sources from University of Michigan, Olli Turpeinen’s book on the Finns in New Hampshire to develop an in depth history of Finnish migration to New Hampshire and their culture and impact in the area.


  • Conduct outward facing reliable research and project that is professional and informative on the Finnish heritage that exists in New Hampshire.


  • Use a variety of resources (pictures, newspapers, books, magazines, interviews) across many platforms (WordPress, Twitter) to make our project more accessible and interesting to hopefully allow for more awareness of this history.


Schedule of Milestones


  • September 21st: Read half of Ollie Turpienen’s book The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire


  • October 5th: Kerrin to request files from University of Michigan that will help facilitate research and support in project direction.


  • October 6th: Patrick revisit Newport to cite and research the various sources that we know exist in the Richards Free Memorial Library in Newport.


  • Week of October 12: Sort through, prioritize, and organize research and begin process of developing project website.


  • Week of October 19: Continue developing and editing project site.


  • Week of October 26th: Continue developing and editing project site.


  • Week of November 2nd: Continue developing and editing project site.  By this time we will have visited Newport one last time if we find it necessary. This may be important for collecting more pictures, getting in touch with more people who are aware of Finnish history, or visiting cemeteries and searching for Finnish people.


  • November 9th: Create our Storymap.


  • November 16th: Final version of our TimelineJS(s)


  • November 23rd: Start to put the final touches on the project website/ final editing.


  • November 30th: Complete the project.

Fair Use and Creative Commons

After reviewing the fair use checklist and the Creative Commons site I wanted to create a creative commons license for my blog and for Patrick and I’s project blog. I wanted to share the simple steps for inserting a creative commons license on a WordPress blog.

The fair use checklist is a great tool for making sure that the outward-facing work we do through the use of digital sources is protected and reliable.  Protecting our work and the work of others whose information we use maintains the integrity of work on all platforms and keeps the world of digital education ethical and useful. Here are the simple steps for inserting a creative commons license on your WordPress blog:

 As a reminder, it is important to look over the fair use checklist (link provided below) before creating a creative commons license on your blog or any other site.

1. Create a text widget
2.in text tab, enter code below:
<a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/”><img alt=”Creative Commons License” style=”border-width:0;” src=”https://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/4.0/88×31.png” /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/”>Creative CommonsAttribution 4.0 International License</a>.
3. Save changes




When we share, everyone wins

Project Contract Keene State College

Project Goals

  • This project aims to explore the Finnish Migration and immigration into New Hampshire.
  • The focus will be on towns from Newport, New Hampshire to Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
  • The goal is to explore the individuals who lived in already established communities and how they impacted the towns and farms they lived in/on.


  • Another goal is to see if the Finns still live in the towns they first arrived to in the 1880’s, and if their not where did they end up?


  • If we find out they went to other towns and communities outside of New Hampshire and Fitchburg, Massachusetts it will not be the focus of our project but we will mention it.


Tools to be Used


  • Storymap is a tool that we plan to use to map out the communities the Finns lived in. Storymap will also be used to help locate geographically where these Finnish communities were/are on the map.


  • We plan on using extensive pages to by town, that way any visitor to the website can see where these families are from.


Goals for Kerrin and Patrick


  • By next Friday on September 29th Kerrin and Patrick plan on having read most of Ollie’s book The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire        


  • We also plan to on September 29th visit Newport, New Hampshire to see what we can find in the town, and also to get photos of the town.


  •  We plan on adding all of this information to our project website on  October 2nd.


Schedule of Milestones


  • September 21st: Read half of Ollie Turpienen’s book The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire


  • September 28th: Finish Ollie Turpienen’s book


  •  October 5th: Have the Newport, New Hampshire page on the project website up and running and about half of the information we have on Newport available on the site.


  • October 12th: Have the Newport, New Hampshire page completed. Kerrin and Patrick naturally expect more editing to do at this point, but the page will be completed with only minor adjustments at this point.


  • October 19th: Start the Fitchburg, Massachusetts page and find sources related to Finnish Immigration and Migration in that community.


  • October 26th: Have half the Fitchburg, Massachusetts page completed.


  • November 2nd: Have the Fitchburg, Massachusetts page completed.


  • November 9th: Create a Storymap page with all the towns we have run into in researching this project. Have about half that completed by this date.


  • November 16th: Finish the Storymap page.


  • November 23rd: Start to put the final touches on the project website.


  • November 30th: Complete the project.