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The first Finnish immigrants arrived in R ed Wing in 1864, the vanguard of thousands who eventually and resolutely placed Minnesota second among the states in terms of Finnish population. Today we may recognize Minnesota’s “Finnishness” in the popular sauna, in the characteristic tenacity known as sisu, or in place names and cultural markers that link to homeland. The newest contribution to the People of Minnesota series traces the Finns’ migration to the state, particularly its northeastern region; their log construction techniques, including dovetail notching; and their ethnic organizations, from religious to political to fraternal. Colorful sidebars enliven the narrative, highlighting such topics as “Finglish,” New World legends, and the 1920s Olympic competitors in track and field known as the “Flying Finns.” A separate thread tells the story of the Finland Swedes—“the minority within a minority” whose members were born in Finland but spoke Swedish and thus straddled two ethnic groups, belonging fully to neither. The book concludes with a personal narrative of Fred Torma (1888–1979), a miner and carpenter from Nashwauk, who describes establishing a Socialist hall, involvement in the 1907 Mesabi strike, and founding a cooperative boardinghouse and store. His is just one engaging example of the vibrant lives and legacy of Finnish Americans in Minnesota.
Minnesota Crops, Cook, and Conservation during World War I
Meatless Mondays, Wheatless Wednesdays, vegetable gardens and chickens in every empty lot. When the United States entered World War I, Minnesotans responded to appeals for personal sacrifice and changed the way they cooked and ate in order to conserve food for the boys “over there.” Baking with corn and rye, eating simple meals based on locally grown food, consuming fewer calories, and wasting nothing in the kitchen became civic acts. High-energy foods and calories unconsumed on the American home front could help the food-starved, war-torn American Allies eat another day and fight another battle.Food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey engages readers with wide research and recipes drawn from rarely viewed letters, diaries, recipe books, newspaper accounts, government pamphlets, and public service fliers. She brings alive the unknown but unparalleled efforts to win the war made by ordinary “Citizen Soldiers”—farmers and city dwellers, lumberjacks and homemakers—who rolled up their sleeves to apply “can-do” ingenuity coupled with “must-do” drive. Their remarkable efforts transformed everyday life and set the stage for the United States’ postwar economic and political ascendance.
How Humans Shaped the North Woods
Author Jeff Forester describes how humans have occupied and managed the northern borderlands of Minnesota, from tribal burning to pioneer and industrial logging to evolving conceptions of wilderness and restoration forestry. On the surface a story of Minnesota's borderlands, The Forest for the Trees more broadly explores the nation's history of resource extraction and wilderness preservation, casting forward to consider what today?s actions may mean for the future of America?s forests. From early settlers and industrialists seeking the pine forests' wealth to modern visitors valuing the tranquility of protected wilderness, the region known today as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has offered assorted treasures to each generation. By focusing on the ecological history of the BWCAW's Winton watershed, Forester shows how the global story of logging, forestry, conservation, and resource management unfolded in the northern woods of Minnesota. The result is a telling exploration of human attitudes toward wilderness: the grasp after a forest?s resources, the battles between logging and tourist interests, and decades of conservation efforts that have left northern Minnesota denuded of white pine and threatened with potentially devastating fire. The result of a decade of research, The Forest for the Trees chronicles six phases of human interaction with the BWCAW: tribal, burning the land for cultivation; pioneering, harvesting lumber on a small scale; industrial, accelerating the cut and consequently increasing the fire danger; conservation, reacting to both widespread fires and unsustainable harvest levels; wilderness, recognizing important values in woodlands beyond timber; and finally restoration, using prescribed burns and other techniques to return the forest to its "natural" state. Whether promoted or excluded, one constant through these phases is fire. The Forest for the Trees explores how tribal people burned the land to encourage agriculture, how conservationists and others later fought fire in the woods by completely suppressing it, and finally how scientific understanding brought the debate full circle, as recent controlled burns in the BWCAW seek to lessen significant fuel loads that could produce fires of unprecedented magnitude.
A Minnesota Couple's Civil War Letters
During the American Civil War, James Madison Bowler and Elizabeth Caleff Bowler courted, married, became parents, and bought a farm. They attended dances, talked politics, and confided their deepest fears. Because of the war, however, they experienced all of these events separately, sharing them through hundreds of letters from 1861 to 1865 while Madison served in the Third Minnesota Volunteer Regiment.The couple’s separation—which led Madison to battle in the Tennessee Surrender and the Dakota War of 1862—challenged their commitment to the war and to each other. These poignant letters provided them a space to voice their fear for and frustration with each other, and they now provide readers with a window into one couple’s Civil War.
The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota
Hard Work and a Good Deal traces the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which supplied jobs to more than 77,000 Minnesotans during the Great Depression. Nearly one hundred interviews contribute to oral historian Barbara W. Sommer's lively narrative as the "boys" look back on their time in the CCC, during which many of them became men. African American enrollees tell of the segregated policies enforced in the army-run camps; workers for the CCC-Indian Division remember reservation projects that included rebuilding a fur trade-era stockade at Grand Portage. Together, these men give voice to early efforts that advanced the conservation of Minnesota's natural resources five decades in a few short years.
A Chronicle of Five Farm Families
The Haymakers is an epic—the history of man’s struggle with nature as well as man’s struggle against machines. It relates the story of farmers and their obligations to their families, to the animals they fed, and to the land they tended. But The Haymakers is also an elegy—to a way of life fast disappearing from our landscape. In the most heartfelt essays, Hoffbeck chronicles his own family’s struggle to hold onto their family farm and his personal struggle in deciding to leave farming for another way of life. Hoffbeck also seeks to document and preserve the commonplace methods of haymaking, information about haying that might otherwise be lost to posterity. He describes the tools and the methods of haymaking as well as the relentless demands of the farm. Using diaries, agricultural guidebooks and personal interviews, the folkways of cutting, raking, and harvesting hay have been recorded in these chapters. In the end, this book is not so much about agricultural history as it is about family history, personal history—how farm families survive, even persevere.
William W. Warren's History of the Ojibway People has long been recognized as a classic source on Ojibwe History and culture. Warren, the son of an Ojibwe woman, wrote his history in the hope of saving traditional stories for posterity even as he presented to the American public a sympathetic view of a people he believed were fast disappearing under the onslaught of a corrupt frontier populaton. He collected firsthand descriptions and stories from relatives, tribal leaders, and acquaintances and transcribed this oral history in terms that nineteenth-century whites could understand, focusing on warfare, tribal organizations, and political leaders. First published in 1885 by the Minnesota Historical Society, the book has also been cirticized by Native and non-Native scholars, many of whom do not take into account Warren's perspective, goals, and limitations. Now, for the first time since its initial publication, it is made available with new annotations researched and written by professor Theresa Schenck. A new introduction by Schenck also gives a clear and concise history of the text and of the author, firmly establishing a place for William Warren in the tradition of American Indian intellectual thought.
Negotiating Identity, Community, and Culture
Farmers in Laos, U.S. allies during the Vietnam War, refugees in Thailand, citizens of the Western world—the stories of the Hmong who now live in America have been told in detail through books and articles and oral histories over the past several decades. Like any immigrant group, members of the first generation may yearn for the past as they watch their children and grandchildren find their way in the dominant culture of their new home. For Hmong people born and educated in the United States, a definition of self often includes traditional practices and tight-knit family groups but also a distinctly Americanized point of view. How do Hmong Americans negotiate the expectations of these two very different cultures? In an engaging series of essays featuring a range of writing styles, leading scholars, educators, artists, and community activists explore themes of history, culture, gender, class, family, and sexual orientation, weaving their own stories into depictions of a Hmong American community where people continue to develop complex identities that are collectively shared but deeply personal as they help to redefine the multicultural America of today. Contributors: Mary Louise Buley-Meissner, Amy DeBroux, Jeremy Hein, Vincent K. Her, Don Hones, Gary Yia Lee, Song Lee, Pao Lor, Bic Ngo, Keith Quincy, Chan Vang, Hue Vang, Ka Vang, Kou Vang, May Vang, Ma Lee Xiong, Shervun Xiong, Kao Kalia Yang, Kou Yang.
Minnesota has always been a land of immigrants. Successive waves have each made their own way, found their place, and made it their home. The Hmong are one of the most recent immigrant groups, and their remarkable and moving story is told in Hmong in Minnesota. Chia Youyee Vang reveals the colorful, intricate history of Hmong Minnesotans, many of whom were forced to flee their homeland of Laos when the communists seized power during the Vietnam War. Having assisted U.S. troops in the “Secret War,” Hmong soldiers and civilians were eligible to settle in the United States. Vang offers a unique window into the lives of the Minnesota Hmong through the stories of individuals who represent the experiences of many. One voice is that of Mao Heu Thao, one of the first refugees to come to Minnesota, sponsored by Catholic Charities in 1976. She tells of the unexpectedly cold weather, the strange food, and the kindness of her hosts. By introducing readers to the immigrants themselves, Hmong in Minnesota conveys a population’s struggle to adjust to new environments, build communities, maintain cultural practices, and make its mark on government policies and programs.
Dakota and Lakota Women Tell Their Stories
In this poignant collection of oral histories, four Indian elders recount their life stories in their own quiet but uncompromising words. Growing up and living in Minnesota and the Dakotas, Stella Pretty Sounding Flute and Iola Columbus (Dakota) and Celane Not Help Him and Cecelia Hernandez Montgomery (Lakota) share recollections of early family life interrupted by years at government boarding schools designed to eradicate tribal culture. Recounting their complex lives, the grandmothers reveal how they survived difficult circumstances to become activists in Indian politics, reconciling urban with reservation life and Christianity with native spirituality. Particularly memorable is one grandmother’s detailed family account of the tragic events and consequences of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Defying stereotypes, these clear and forthright voices are unforgettable. As the traditional teachers and bearers of culture, the grandmothers also share their concern for future generations.