Paper Title

Finnish Americans and the Farm Revolt of the 1930s

Location

Fisher 127

Event Website

http://www.finnforumx.com/

Start Date

12-4-2014 2:20 PM

End Date

12-4-2014 2:40 PM

Description

Farm protest in the United States attracted widespread attention in the 1930s as militant farmers interfered with foreclosure sales, demonstrated at county court houses and state capitals, and blocked highways and stopped trains to prevent crops and livestock from going to market in an effort to raise farm prices. The best known of the protest groups was the Farmers Holiday Association, which was formed in 1932. Prior to the Holiday, however, a left-wing group organized by Communists in 1930 known as the United Farmers League (UFL) gained an initial following in the cutover country of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, and parts of the Dakotas and northeast Montana. Finnish Americans dominated the UFL in the Upper Midwest and in a few locales in the Dakotas. Evidence for this high level of influence comes from the fact that the head of the Communist Party’s Agrarian Department was Henry Puro, a key figure in Finnish American Communist circles and a member of the Party’s Politburo. This paper will focus on Finnish American involvement in the UFL and, to a lesser extent, the broader-based Farmers Holiday movement.

Presenter Bio

An emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he was a member of the Department of History for 42 years, Bill Pratt received his Ph.D. from Emory University and has researched extensively on the American left, paying particular attention to its involvement in farm movements. He was the Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer in American History at Moscow State University in 2000 and a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Warsaw in 2007. His recent publications include essays on “Karelian Fever” and Finnish-American involvement in the Communist movement.

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Apr 12th, 2:20 PM Apr 12th, 2:40 PM

Finnish Americans and the Farm Revolt of the 1930s

Fisher 127

Farm protest in the United States attracted widespread attention in the 1930s as militant farmers interfered with foreclosure sales, demonstrated at county court houses and state capitals, and blocked highways and stopped trains to prevent crops and livestock from going to market in an effort to raise farm prices. The best known of the protest groups was the Farmers Holiday Association, which was formed in 1932. Prior to the Holiday, however, a left-wing group organized by Communists in 1930 known as the United Farmers League (UFL) gained an initial following in the cutover country of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, and parts of the Dakotas and northeast Montana. Finnish Americans dominated the UFL in the Upper Midwest and in a few locales in the Dakotas. Evidence for this high level of influence comes from the fact that the head of the Communist Party’s Agrarian Department was Henry Puro, a key figure in Finnish American Communist circles and a member of the Party’s Politburo. This paper will focus on Finnish American involvement in the UFL and, to a lesser extent, the broader-based Farmers Holiday movement.

http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/copperstrikesymposium/Schedule/Saturday/54