1940 Finntown baby clothes collection for Finnish children
Photo credit : : http://digitalcollections.hclib.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/MplsPhotos/id/12293 (accessed 2017.dec.22) - - Hennepin County Library online collection (donated by Star and Tribune Company) Published in Minneapolis Morning Tribune.
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Baby Shower Sponsored By Helping Hand to Finland - - Women examining baby garments are named from left to right: Mrs. Kangas, Mrs. Renne, Mrs. Eldre, and Ellen Hasty. Others are seen in background. - - Eldre, Mrs. J. H. - Hasty, Ellen - Kangas, Mayme J. - Renne, Magnhild - - Wells Memorial House - - 02/25/1940
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- - - - - This photo published in 'Hennepin History Magazine', Fall 1988 issue, article: "Finntown, Minneapolis - An American Neighborhood" by K. Marianne Wargelin - - - - - Caption in magazine: ""Finnish American women at "Minneapolis's largest baby shower," held in 1940 to collect baby clothes for Finnish children. These women represented four different Finntown churches.""
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Following text credit: Article in the fall 1988 issue of 'Hennepin County History' magazine:
FINNTOWN, MINNEAPOLIS - AN AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOOD
. . . by: K. Marianne Wargelin
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (part 5 of 9 - - - continued from previous page)
One such young man, the son of a prominent civil official in Pori, Finland, rejected his father's desire that all his sons and daughters attend the university. He trained as a painter/plasterer and lived as a worker in Pori. Three years after arriving in the United States in 1905, he marched with thousands of others in Chicago carrying a "Eugene Debs for President" banner. He and his wife, a woman he met at the Finnish American Socialist Hall, came to Minneapolis to work and rear a family.
This couple, and other young single and married people like them, became active in the newly formed Finnish Workers Society. At the Finnish Workers Society Hall, Emil Kemppainen organized a choir and a brass band - something the Laestadians did not do. They started to hold dances, perform plays, and organize sporting activities.
This organization had originated in 1901 as a speakers club within Vesa, the newly revived temperance society; in 1903, the name "Vesa" was changed to "Finnish Workers Society"; by 1905, the society's liberalism drove more conservative temperence members out. On Dec 6, 1905, 41 people signed their names to an affiliation document with the emerging Finnish Socialist Federation. A core of committed social democratic-thinking tailors who had learned their politics in Workers' Clubs in Finland orchestrated the changes. These tailors - people like John Sala, Arvo Narhi, Albin Immonen, Kalle Koski and Lyydia Koski - saw that Finnish delegates attended both local and state American Socialist Party conventions.
In 1910, the group raised $20,000 for a new hall. When the hall opened in 1913, the two-story, brick building with a theater seating 400, attracted large crowds for Saturday night dances and elaborate theatrical performances. The society's membership grew to 265, and their "worldly" activities attracted many otherwise unaffiliated Finns. Curiously, the new building was constructed less than half a block from the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church. The group enjoyed reminded their Laestadian neighbors that they were there - marching their brass band up and down the street, disturbing the services in the church.
The bustle of the new institutional activity did not reenergize the oldest institution, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Without a building or a resident pastor, competing now with Socialism as well as Laestadianism, church membership remained low. But the national body, the Suomi Synod, continued to send visiting pastors, hoping that the Synod, which they considered the rightful daughter of thr Lutheran Church in Finland, would ultimately take hold in Minneapolis.
Finntown was almost complete. It lacked only a public sauna. But then Wells Memorial settlement House at 11th and Western announced plans for an addition. The Finns lobbied the officials to include a sauna rather than a proposed bowling alley. "Of all the opportunities offered at the settlement none is more popular than the baths," reported the Minneapolis Journal on March 4, 1914 soon after the addition was opened. "They are patronized far beyond their capacity. The only Finnish baths in the city are at Wells and are used by Finns from all parts of the city.
With the opening of the sauna at Wells Memorial, the birth of Finntown was complete. With Finnish institutions, businesses and people clustered in one compact area, the community could move on to its third stage.
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Finn townFinntownMinneapolis HistoryMinneapolisGlenwood AvenueMarianne WargelinFinntown MinneapolisAn American Neighborhood