PI’s Blog 2021-2022

The Humana project has been going on now for about four years and is gradually winding down. While this has been exciting research it has also posed us some challenges. Especially difficult was the period of COVID-19 pandemic. We could not, for example, conduct field work and archival research in Sugar Island and Hancock, Michigan at the Finlandia university. However, we were able to acquire an amazing number of materials from Sugar Island. We have now been in the process of organizing and making it into a Gephi readable format. In January 2022 we organized a conference on zoom together with Professor Hillary Virtanen from Finlandia University. The conference was a great success, and we had the pleasure to have several Sugar Islanders listening to our talks. Some of the slides will be posted here on the blog page. In 2021 Rani Andersson got together with doctor Janne Lahti to work on a book project called Finnish Settler Colonialism in North America: Rethinking Finnish Experiences in Transnational Spaces . The book was published in December 2022 by Helsinki University Press and can be freely downloaded on the website. Two articles in the book were directly related to Sugar Island, one by me and doctor Rainer Smedman focusing on Oskari Tokoi and Frank Aaltonen and the other by Justin Gage focusing on Sugar Island Finns in general. Shorter version of my article can be found in our blog posts as well as three extensive blogs by Justin: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

While the project is gradually coming to a close, we are still in the process of developing interactive computer models on Sugar Island Finns.  For example, we originally limited our study to years before 1940. The 1950 census records however recently became available for research and we will at some point integrate them to our computer models. That would extend our research from the early 20th century to the 1950s allowing us to look at Sugar Island Finnish community from its birth in 1915 all the way to 1950s. We will keep posting blogs to these websites whenever we find something exciting and I hope that you can reach out to us if you have questions or comments about the project. We will continue to work closely with the Sugar Island Historical Preservation Society that does valuable work in preserving the island’s past.

Published by Rani-Henrik Andersson

I am a Senior University Lecturer in American Studies at the Department of Cultures (Faculty of Arts). My research interests are Native North Americans, environmental history, and digital humanities.

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