Wednesday, April 16, 2014



The 1913-1914 Mining Labor Strike 

FinnForum X

Two symposia: April 10, 11 and 12, 2014 

                                                       1913-1914 Strike Gathering  

Michigan Technological University 
Finlandia University
Houghton and Hancock, MI


Here's a review of a few of the events:

Thursday evening, a movie, "To My Son in Spain: Finnish-Canadians in the Spanish Civil War", the story of Jules Paivio who was in the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion in the late 1930s as part of the International Brigades.  One is impressed with his intelligence and leadership in one of the many horrific wars of the 20th century.

Friday, attendees had an opportunity to view exhibits portraying the 1913-14 Strike, a selection of pictures by early 20th century photographer J.W. Nara, an exhibit of artifacts recovered from the now demolished Italian Hall related to its Christmas Eve disaster.  

Saturday was a marathon of talks and dinners, both appetizing.

A sampling:

Teofilo Petriella, a little known Italian Marxist revolutionary, who organized workers in his home country and here in the Keweenaw from Paul Lubotina of Middle Tennessee University.

Peter Krats, Western University, gave an invigorating talk about Finns in the Sudbury, Canada area where they undertook mining and farming activities.

A masterful presentation of the archaeology of the Italian Hall and the social role of halls and saloons here and in Virginia City, NV through the disciplinary lens of MTU's Tim Scarlett.

From John Beck of MSU, a surprisingly interesting story of two Michigan Supreme Court cases regarding the state's anti-communist red flag law.

Two graduate students, Daniel Schneider and Brendan Pelto, informed us about copper country union activities  between 1935-55 and the 1968-9 strike.

Sarah Fayen Scarlett, MTU, gave us an overview of East Hancock's Downton Abbey where spatial segregation was reflected in neighborhoods and how social space circumscribed a maid's duties within her employer's house.

Finnish Americans figured prominently, said William Pratt from the University of Nebraska, in farm revolts in Nebraska during the Great Depression, attempting to hold on to their farms by extralegal means.

The keynote by Arnold Alanen of UW-Madison described how gardens were encouraged and supported by the mining companies, both to supplement their diets and provide healthy activities for families.  An interesting physical aspect of company paternalism was construction of shared barns built on property corners of homes for workers' horses and implements.

All in all, a well-planned set of symposia for those interested in the 1913-4 Strike and the Finnish presence in the Keweenaw.  


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