Goals, Due Dates, and Moments.

Upcoming Goals:

Thursday, Sep. 21: Read half The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire.

Tuesday, Sep. 28: Finish The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire. 

Friday, Sep. 29: Visit Newport, NH.

Due Dates:

Thursday, Oct. 5: Final Draft of Contract Due by class time.

Tuesday, Oct. 17: Assignment: Individual Blog Updates. In Class: Check in on Project Progress. Blog/Present in class.

Thursday, Oct. 26: Assignment: Website Perusals in Class and short check-ins on projects.

Tuesday, Oct. 31: Assignment: Rough Draft of Website Due by class time.

Tuesday, Nov. 7: Assignment: Brief check-in/progress report.

Tuesday, Nov. 14: Assignment: Longer check-in/progress report.

Tuesday, Nov. 26: Final Presentation ready.

Thursday, Nov. 28:  Blog post reflecting on general experience of researching and building website due.

Monday, Dec. 11: Final Project Websites and Write-ups Due by 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Finally equipped with a paper copy of Olli Turpeinen’s The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire Patrick and I are ready to experience migration moments that specifically relate to the Finnish migrants to New Hampshire and really move our project forward.[1]

Reading Turpeinen’s history of the Finns in Newport we see a strong connection between the Finnish in Newport and the larger population of Finns in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. We are thinking of creating a website that has two pages, one for Newport, New Hampshire, and one for Fitchburg, Massachusetts. From Turpeinen’s records, it is interesting to identify the different ways in which the Finnish did or did not assimilate themselves into American culture. One way that the Finns preserved their culture upon their arrival to Newport, was to supply themselves with goods from Finnish workers only. When the Finns could not get their goods from Newport they would travel to Fitchburg, MA where they would find all of their needs met through some type of Finnish business. The Finns did this rather than travel to Manchester, New Hampshire, the state’s largest city, because the closest congregation of Finnish immigrants was in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. They kept their traditions by relying mostly on other Finns for advice in regards to medicine or law. Another way the Finns preserved their culture in Newport was by creating a hall, in Newport it was the Finnish Socialist Hall. Not just to promote the socialist political agenda that many Finns in Newport originally supported, the creation of this hall would represent the way that the Finns would attempt to uphold their traditions as it was commonplace for every Finntown to have a social hall.

On the other hand, the Finns in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and Newport, New Hampshire assimilated into American culture by changing their names in almost every case. Turpeinen states that many Finnish changed their names themselves to, “fit better into American scenes”.[2] The Finnish migrant population also assimilated into American culture by assuming the position of the labor force that industrialized America wanted for immigrants, millworkers, and following the mills wherever they went. The Finns arrived in Newport and Fitchburg mainly because of the Mills and they eventually left because work opened up in other mill areas.

Looking further into this book I hope to find more indications of how the culture of Southwestern New Hampshire or Northern Massachusetts influenced the Finns and vice versa. I have a hypothesis that the Finnish psyche played a role in informing the mentality of the average member of a Southwestern New Hampshire or Northern Massachusetts town or city.

[1] Olli Turpeinen, The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire: A Partial Record of Immigrant Finns- Names and Events – in Newport, N.H., from about 1887 to November 14, 1997. (New Brighton, MN: Sampo Publishing, Inc., 2001).


[2] Ibid., 2.

Secondary Source Struggles

Chandler, Joan. “Newport’s Finnish People.” Accessed September 6, 2017. http://www.soonipi.com/TheFinns.html.

As it turns out, Patrick and I have to make some more trips to the historical society as well as the archives in the near future to get hold of most of our secondary sources. However, thanks to the world of online shopping, we both have copies of The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire by Olli Turpeinen, our chief secondary source, on their way to us in the mail. That means we have yet to obtain them ourselves, and this was the source I had hoped to investigate, but in the meantime I decided to read “Newport’s Finnish People” by Joan Chandler, who uses Turpeinen in much of the article which discusses the Finnish people and their migration and lifestyle in Newport, New Hampshire who largely arrived in the 1880’s[1].

Chandler’s thesis was unclear and because I know that the author relied heavily on Turpeinen’s work, I would prefer to review The Finn’s in Newport, New Hampshire before using this source to report heavily on the Finns in this area. Nonetheless, I did find a few interesting bits of information that are worth sharing. One of these is something my COPLAC class has talked about, specifically as our colleague Amy Schmidgall has some background knowledge on the subject. The subject is that of Finnish names, “Because their names were difficult for others to pronounce, the Finns often took on more “American-sounding” names. “Bill Johnson” might once have been “Yrjo Liimatainen!”[2] Amy had informed our class that the Finnish tend to have eccentric and unusual names to Americans and she was not lying. It is thought provoking that the Finnish so often changed their names to more easily assimilate into American culture. It is important to note that the Finnish were one of the European migrating groups that were understood to be more assimilable, and thus, desirable to Americans, and still, they had to sacrifice parts of their culture to appropriately join the self-proclaimed, American “Melting Pot”.

Chandler also wrote about the political position of many Finns in New Hampshire. Again, I am going to refer to Turpeinen’s book before I discuss Chandler’s work in more detail. One thing Chandler wrote that intrigued me, though, about the Finns, “It was becoming uncomfortable to be (or admit to being) a Communist. One local Communist laborer was said to have applied for US citizenship. The FBI, investigating his background, interviewed the man’s employer, George Dorr. Mr. Dorr said he didn’t wish to fire the man because he was an excellent worker.” Again, it is interesting to me that it is possible that a Finnish man was investigated due to his ties to a political party, specifically because the Finnish may have influences from Russia. These are patterns that we still see today in American society. The acceptance of migrants is dependent on how assimilable they are.

[1] Joan Chandler, “Newport’s Finnish People,” accessed September 6, 2017, http://www.soonipi.com/TheFinns.html.

[2] Ibid., Chandler.

Primary Sources and Pondering

My individual search for secondary sources within the archives, through interdisciplinary books and online sources has been stimulating. To illustrate this is the start of the secondary sources bibliography for our project,  here. 

When it comes to primary sources I personally have not yet had the privilege of visiting the Historical Society of Cheshire County, however, my partner Patrick brought back wonderful news from his visit.

Patrick shared with me that he has found passports, immigration forms, and most excitingly, two letters, concerning a Jacob Raitto. Based on these letters a Finnish alien immigrant crossed paths with a bank specifically in the city of Keene. Seeking a loan, Raitto and another man discussed the necessity of being a naturalized citizen. When I have the chance to look at the letters myself, I will see what the indications are about Finnish lifestyles and the hardships of these migrants were in New Hampshire. I would love to find out what this man was hoping to take out a loan for.

Patrick and I discussed what sources we have gathered so far that we can use to fuel our project and we think that it might be beneficial to create a StoryMap of Finnish Migrants in the Monadnock Area and potentially a bit further. We have learned that there is a large population of Finnish in Newport, NH, Rindge, NH, New Ipswitch, NH, and Manchester, NH. Although it is ambitious to begin exploring areas beyond just Keene we believe it will add to the integrity of our project to outline the areas that lured Finnish migrants in and dissect the impact of their culture onto those areas and vice versa.

In other news, Patrick and I both discussed the potential idea that we may completely switch our focus and turn to the migrant history of Hispanics in our local area. While currently this is just a brewing thought, our reasoning is because we believe that by proving the culture that Hispanics have made in our area we would be able to create a new perspective for American’s today who have a racialized view of Hispanic migrants…

For now, we will stick with the Finnish. They are still important to us because Olli Turpeinen, author of The Finns in Newport, New Hampshire is one of the only Historians who have made public the story of the Finns in the Granite State, as stated in the book itself. 

Migration Moment from Keene, NH.

Immigration and Impact: The Finns of New Hampshire

Kerrin McTernan and Patrick Driscoll

Research Question: How has the migrant history of the Finns to New Hampshire affected the culture of Southern New Hampshire?

Goal: The broad goal of this project is to promote awareness of intricate migrant histories in America and their impacts on local cultures in a time where the word “immigrant” is a controversial term that often has a negative connotation within American society.

There was not one particular moment that led Patrick and I to decide to investigate the Finnish migrant history in New Hampshire. Rather it was a series of hints through bits of information found that led to this decision. I first discovered the existence of a Finnish migrant past in our local area when I began my research and landed upon the website for the Historical Society of Cheshire County. My next encounter with this cultures’ migrant history in America was when our COPLAC Professor Alvis Dunn shared this documentary with me on Twitter about Finnish-American Lives. Next, Patrick and I found several good-sized books about the Finns in New Hampshire at our local archives in the Keene State Mason Library. While initially we were interested in both the Lebanese community and the Finnish community in New Hampshire it is the Finns story in America, in New Hampshire, and even more interestingly, in the Manchester area that we are going to attempt to tell.

Now I suspect that more enlightening moments will come for me in the coming days when I return to the Keene State College archives and finally get my chance to visit the Historical Society of Cheshire County. It is there where I hope to find primary sources and supplementary secondary sources that will help support my decision to base my research on the Finnish community in the Granite State.

(draft) Objectives:

Conduct open-facing research through the use of various online platforms such as Twitter and WordPress and thorough and public citations of resources.

Diving into Archives at KSC

Patrick Driscoll, my partner in this COPLAC course, and I visited the Keene State College Archives to begin our research on migration history in New Hampshire. It was not the first time we had been here together and our previous experience conducting archival work certainly contributed to the ease of use we had in the facility this time around. We were able to quickly find, not without the help of our lovely archivists, several records of migration populations in New Hampshire. What we discovered were books. Most of these books come from a collection written by Thaddeus M. Piotrowski who spent what seems to be many years compiling information about various immigrant populations existing in New Hampshire, and specifically in the Manchester area, throughout history. Piotrowski produced individual books about each migrant group, went into detail about their histories, cultures, successes and setbacks living in the region, and much more. The groups were: Hispanics in New Hampshire, mostly lured here by an industrialized Granite State’s mills and textiles; Scots and their descendants in Londonderry New Hampshire; German-American groups and their heritage in New Hampshire; Vietnamese refugees of New Hampshire; the Finnish in Newport, New Hampshire, and the Lebanese population in New Hampshire.

The archivist on duty even informed Patrick and I that in her experience growing up near Keene the French-Canadians were the largest group of immigrants who traveled here to work in the many mills in the state. When she would use her telephone as a girl she would even hear French language being spoken through the party lines.

Patrick and I took notes about all of these groups and will gladly revisit them to improve our research, but there is one group in particular that sparked our interest in terms of where to focus our project. This was the Lebanese immigrant population in New Hampshire. We are compelled to reveal more information about the Lebanese migration history in the area because of one bit of information that set them apart from most immigrant populations who traveled into the Northeast. The majority of immigrant populations traveled here to work in mills and factories, but the Lebanese, according to our research, came to America and established small businesses. Not only was this unique but it was also surprising because we assumed that even if a group did not initially travel here to work in the mills, it would likely be difficult to state a small business because of a strained social status. Thus Patrick and I are fascinated by this community who we had little knowledge even impacted New Hampshire and we would love to bring more awareness to this culture for the betterment of ourselves as well as our community.

Migration Historians and the Immigrant Paradigm

Donna Gabaccia, “‘Is Everywhere No Where?’ Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 86, No. 3 (December 1999): 1115-34.

In this article Gabaccia uses the topic of Italian migration historiography through her work with the Italians Everywhere project to bring into question the hegemony of nation-building in regards to the study of migrant history, particularly in American historiography. This article argues that migration historians must be historians of the world, of several nations, and of the ethnic, religious, and regional loyalties in order to sustain and motivate migration (Gabaccia, 1115).

The Italians Everywhere project revealed that the common national narrative of Italy’s migration history is fundamentally incorrect, making me wonder if the common narrative of migration in United States History cannot be debunked through our in depth analysis of specific regions migration historiographies (1112). I am also wondering if through Patrick and I’s project we may be able to tell a story of the Granite State’s migrant history as having an impact on nation building throughout history, or vice-versa. Did migrant groups in the Granite State place more of their culture into the American “Melting-Pot” or was their culture lost through a quick assimilation into American society?

Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.

The topic of Adam Goodman’s article is that of the United States being referred to throughout history as A Nation of Immigrants. Goodman argues that this phrase and others like it reinforce inadequate and inaccurate stereotypes of immigrants and of America (Goodman, 7). As I read Goodman’s article I am tempted to focus on those non-European immigrant groups that were or are present in New Hampshire, for in the past these groups have been depicted as secondary actors (8). In this article I also found tips for being a historian of migration such as, “utilizing multiple methods, rely on sources in multiple languages, and incorporate an interdisciplinary approach that, when necessary, pulls from sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, and legal studies” (8). On top of that, in this article as well as Gabaccia’s article I notice the praise on historians who focus on migration rather than immigration so as not to reinforce the nation of immigrants myth or privilege the history of one-way migration and community formation (9). Lastly, I take from these articles the advice to study through a transnational lens when conducting my own research.


To get from one place to another you must, at the very least, take a step, metaphorically or literally. Even if those steps are small, they will take you somewhere.

Before we begin tracing my path, it is important to know that I am a student in a digital COPLAC course titled Cultural Crossroads where I am to conduct a semester long project concerning the immigration/migration history local to Keene, New Hampshire, among other things. To step into the world of this class you can look here.

My first step was research.

I began with little to no knowledge about my local immigration/ migration history and with just a small step, the typing of a few words, many paths have opened up for me to learn more.

At the Historical Society of Cheshire County I found the names of several presenters for a recent teacher workshop about the history of immigration in the Granite State. These presenters seem to have ample knowledge to share.

Without even reaching out to these experts and scholars I now know that there is a story to be told about Jewish immigration, French Canadian immigration, and Finnish immigration in New Hampshire. And reading the descriptions of these presentations here I now know that these groups of immigrations made impacts on my local culture and were also impacted by the culture of the Granite State.

So many directions to take my research already!

I wonder where I will go once I speak with some of these people, once I visit the Keene State College Archives, once I utilize other resources shared by the Historical Society of Cheshire County and by my professors!

So, my first reaction to the start of this COPLAC course is an overwhelming urge to start walking.

Keep following me for updates!