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Accepted Paper:

Creating a Finnish immigrant community in handwritten newspapers  
Kirsti Salmi-Niklander (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the creation of a Finnish immigrant community in the handwritten newspaper Walotar, edited in the Finnish community of Rockport, MA 1903-1925. The analysis focuses on "local event narratives" and the reflections on gender, politics, ideology and ethnicity.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will explore the creation of an immigrant community in the vernacular writings of Finnish immigrants in North America. Handwritten newspapers edited in immigrant communities provide a valuable albeit so far sparsely studied source for this analysis. My paper is based on a large and unique collection: Walotar ('Lady of Light'), edited by the members of Walon Leimu temperance society in Rockport, Massachusetts 1903-1925. The community was established at the end of the 19th century, when Finns were recruited to work in the granite quarries on Cape Ann.

Handwritten newpapers were a common tradition in Finland and in Finnish immigrant communities. Walotar is one of the largest and most complete preserved collections, altogether about 1200 pages. It was written to empty ledgers and rather resembled a collective diary or a commonplace book. These materials are now archived at Finnish American Heritage Center (Hancock, MI).

The writers Walotar openly reflect the immigrant experience and everyday life in the immigrant community. The language is a mixture of "Finglish" (English vocabulary spelled in Finnish manner), nonstandard Finnish and dialect expressions.

I will analyse "local event narratives", which are a genre typical for handwritten newspapers, depicting events in local communities. The main questions in the analysis are: How do Finnish immigrants create their community, their own time and space? How are the social and political tensions and gender aspects reflected in these narratives? How do they comment and make distinctions to the other ethnic groups?

Panel P159
Sensory events, material texts, and phenomenological inscriptions of migration
  Session 1 Friday 17 August, 2018, -