University of Minnesota
Digitizing Immigrant Letters

Letters selected from the America Letters collection - letters written by immigrants from Finland

In the 1960s, the Department of History of the University of Turku, Finland, conducted a project that gathered materials pertaining to Finnish overseas emigration. As part of the project, in 1964 and 1966, the Department collected letters sent by Finnish immigrants living in various destinations (mainly in the U.S. and Canada) to their family, friends, and relatives in Finland. The project yielded over 12,000 letters, which were collected in three provinces in the coastal areas of Finland (the area from which most Finnish immigrants to the U.S. originated): Varsinais-Suomi, Satakunta, and Etelä-Pohjanmaa. These "America Letters" (ca. 1880-1964) are now part of the IHRC's Finnish American collection in microfilm format.  The topics discussed in letters include family news; health;  economic conditions; living conditions; working conditions; weather; and moving in search of employment.

Unidentified sisters, Brooklyn, New York, ca. 1910s Lumber camp workers standing in the snow outside cabin near Margie, Minnesota.

 

August Aalto - letter to Hilma Aerila, August - April 27, 1906
August Aalto - letter to Hilma Aerila, March 30, 1907
Bert Aalto - letter to Hilma Aerila, August 26, 1911
Bert Aalto - letter to Hilma Aerila, November 14, 1911
Bert Aalto - letter to Hilma Aerila, January 12, 1912
Saimi - letter to her sister, 1938
Anonymous - to her friend Olga, 1959

Listen to Johanna Leinonen reading from one of the letters here.

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