The Finnish Press
A. WILLIAM HOGLUND
Since 1876 American Finns have published almost ninety newspapers in a language that was little used for literary purposes until the start of modern migration from Finland to the United States. Between the sixteenth century and 1809, when Imperial Russia acquired Finland from Sweden, Finnish-language publications numbered only 174, mainly of a religious nature. Only one Finnish newspaper appeared in this period; it lasted less than a year. Even after the Russian takeover of Finland, the Swedish language dominated a society in which it was the mother tongue of about 15 percent of the population. However, by the middle of the nineteenth century the Finnish nationalist movement won more recognition for the majority language, both through the transcribing of the oral epic, Kalevala, and through the gradual adoption of Finnish and Swedish as coequal official languages between 1863 and 1883. This bitter fight over language spurred the publication of Finnish newspapers, which outnumbered Swedish ones after 1876. Religious, temperance, and labor movements, too, hastened the growth of newspapers. But this literary activity lagged in the rural areas of Finland that sent immigrants to America. Consequently, Finnish immigrants developed their literary interests more fully in America, where by 1899, according to Akseli Järnefelt (Rauanheimo), they read newspapers more than in their old homeland.
In 1864 the Quincy Mining Company recruited Finnish copper miners from Norway to work in its mines around Hancock and Calumet, Michigan. Upwards of 1,000 Finns arrived via Norway, while almost 3,500 Finns came directly from Finland during the 1860s and 1870s. These pioneers were mainly supporters of Lars Levi Laestadius and his pietistic movement, which was opposed by the hostile Evangelical Lutheran state church of Finland. In 1867 Finnish Laestadians, or Apostolic Lutherans, as they were later known, joined Swedes and Norwegians to establish a congregation in Hancock. Four years later the Finns formed their own congregation. Meanwhile, Finnish Evangelical Lutherans began forming their own churches in the same area. Before these Michigan communities were well established Finns started moving to farms in Minnesota.