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Finns in Minnesota

By Arnold Alanen

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.

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Food Will Win the War

Minnesota Crops, Cook, and Conservation during World War I

Rae Katherine Eighmey

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.

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Forest for the Trees

How Humans Shaped the North Woods

Jeff Forester

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.

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Fractured Land

The Price of Inheriting Oil

What does an environmentalist do when she realizes she will inherit mineral rights and royalties on fracked oil wells in North Dakota? How does she decide between financial security and living as a committed conservationist who wants to leave her grandchildren a healthy world? After her father’s death, Lisa Westberg Peters investigates the stories behind the leases her mother now holds. She learns how her grandfather's land purchases near Williston in the 1940s reflect four generations of creative risk-taking in her father’s Swedish immigrant family. She explores the ties between frac sand mining on the St. Croix River and the halting, difficult development of North Dakota’s oil, locked in shale two miles down and pursued since the 1920s. And then there are the surprising and immediate connections between the development of North Dakota oil and Peters’s own life in Minneapolis. Catapulted into a world of complicated legal jargon, spectacular feats of engineering, and rich history, Peters travels to the oil patch and sees both the wealth and the challenges brought by the boom. She interviews workers and farmers, geologists and lawyers, those who welcome and those who reject the development, and she finds herself able to see shades of gray in what had previously seemed black and white.

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Frederick Weyerhaeuser and the American West

By Judith Healey with an introduction by Char Miller

The Weyerhaeuser name looms large in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, and Arkansas, attached to paper mills, cabinet factories, and vast tracts of land, both forested and cut over. Frederick Weyerhaeuser, the man who started the lumber empire, significantly shaped the American economy and landscape from Wisconsin westward in the nineteenth century.

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Go If You Think It Your Duty

A Minnesota Couple's Civil War Letters

Andrea R. Foroughi

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.

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Good Time for the Truth

Race in Minnesota

Edited by Sun Yung Shin

In this provocative book, sixteen of Minnesota’s best writers provide a range of perspectives on what it is like to live as a person of color in one of the whitest states in the nation. They give readers a splendid gift: the gift of touching another human being’s inner reality, behind masks and veils and politeness. They bring us generously into experiences that we must understand if we are to come together in real relationships. Minnesota communities struggle with some of the nation’s worst racial disparities. As its authors confront and consider the realities that lie beneath the numbers, this book provides an important tool to those who want to be part of closing those gaps. With contributions by: Taiyon J. Coleman Heid E. Erdrich Venessa Fuentes Shannon Gibney David Grant Carolyn Holbrook IBé Andrea Jenkins Robert Karimi JaeRan Kim Sherry Quan Lee David Mura Bao Phi Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria Diane Wilson Kao Kalia Yang

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Hard Work and a Good Deal

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota

Barbara W. Sommer

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.

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Haymakers

A Chronicle of Five Farm Families

Steven R. Hoffbeck

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.

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Her Honor

Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement

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