The University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) has established an endowment fund to support the preservation of Finnish American heritage. Named in memory of the Center's beloved long-time Finnish specialist, Timo Riippa, the fund will ensure that the Finnish American experience is thoroughly documented and researched for generations to come.
The Finnish American Collection at the IHRC is internationally acclaimed and includes approximately 1,500 books and pamphlets, files of 240 newspapers and serials, and manuscript collections amounting to some 400 linear feet of documents. Subject strengths include Finnish temperance societies, labor and cooperative movements, political activity, local community life, and the church. Extensive runs of several Finnish American periodicals include Amerikan Uutiset (The American News), Cooperative Builder, Auttaja (The Helper), Raivaaja (The Pioneer), and Tyomies-Eteenpain (Worker-Forward). Many of the Center's newspaper files have been preserved on microfilm and are accessible through interlibrary loan. Prominent manuscript collections include the records of the Central Cooperative Wholesale (Superior, WI), the Tyomies Society (Superior, WI), the Work People's College (Duluth, MN), and the Imatra Society (Brooklyn, NY). The IHRC also holds personal papers of several writers, political figures, cultural and social activists, musicians and clergymen, and various others. In addition, significant documentation on the daily lives of immigrants and their descendants is contained in the 14,000 "America letters" acquired on microfilm from Finland as well as in the extensive Minnesota Finnish American Family History Collection.
(Photo: Young school children, Nashwauk, Minnesota Finnish Community Collection)
Our goal of $500,000 for this fund will support ongoing staff responsible for the care and development of the Finnish American collection. We are now well over one-third of the way to reaching this thanks to the many Timo Riippa memorial gifts, a generous bequest of $150,000 to the Riippa Fund, proceeds from the Kalevala Theatre Society's benefit performances ("In the Willows" amd "Not Red—Just a Little Pink"), and many other gifts to the Finnish American collection.
Gifts have been received also to establish a graduate fellowship in Finnish American Studies. This fellowship will be matched dollar-for-dollar in interest revenue by the University of Minnesota.
We invite and encourage all who have an abiding interest in Finnish American culture to help us ensure that the unique historical documentation of this important immigrant community is preserved and made available for many years to come.
Follow the University of Minnesota Foundation link to make an online gift through the University of Minnesota Foundation's secure site. Type in the designation "IHRC: Finnish American Collection (Fund 5690)" in order to have your gift directed to this particular fund. You may also submit a pledge through the same Web page.