Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Tsar's empire

A friend from high school, Mike Cantrell, is living in Russia. He and his wife, Olga, are missionaries. I enjoy following their lives and work on Mikes' blog. Mike's recent post was about a collection in the Library of Congress: the photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944)

The Boston Globe also has an extensive gallery of pictures from the collection. They are truly amazing. The Boston Globe explains the process for taking the glorious color prints in the collection. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special camera to take 3 photographs in rapid succession. He used color filters to show the nearly true colors of the subjects. As the Boston Globe emphasizes, the pictures document life before the Russian revolution and WWI.

I have chosen a picture for my blog, "Finn digging potatoes". You can see the picture at the Library of Congress web site. The LOC web site says this picture was taken between 1905 and 1915.

After the initial, small Swedish colonial wave of settlement, the Finns began to arrive the United States in the 1880s. I imagine that this potato farmer could have easily picked up and left that barren field in Russian-controlled Finland to head for the more lucrative mills and pastures of Fitchburg or Newport.

Finnish immigration increased in the early 19th Century with towns like Newport and Fitchburg having sizable Finnish populations. Newport once supported 3 Finnish Halls: Socialist, Communist, and Temperance.

To learn more about Finnish Halls you can watch the trailer for the forthcoming production of Big Finn Hall about the Finnish Hall in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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