Dear Members, Summer of 2009
During the past year I have been in touch with many of you – something I appreciate very much. Thank you for your letters, phone calls and visits. Our members abroad are such an important link to our work at the Emigrant Institute. I am also very aware that some of you may expect a personal letter, but please forgive me... From this newsletter you can see that this year has been exceptionally busy.
Alaska trip in September 2008
Last September I had the privilege of meeting some of you in person on my visit to Seattle and Alaska. It was a wonderful tour arranged by the Institute of Migration in Finland, in Åbo/Turku. Thanks to friends and contacts of Maria Enckell, M.F.A. and well-known Russian-American Company researcher, so many doors were opened for our group. We met much kindness and hospitality wherever we went. It was a journey I will always treasure and remember. Everyone whom we met, I wish to thank you all again for all your goodness towards us. During our journey we met many people with roots in Åland and also people who were closely linked to our “Russian exhibit” (see below).
We also went to Seattle. There it was possible for me to visit the Nordic Museum, the former Nordic Heritage Museum. It was a very important visit. If all works out as we wish, our “Russian exhibit” about Swedish Finns in St. Petersburg and in the Russian Empire, nowadays called “1721-1922: Two Centuries of Finnish Labor Migration to Imperial Russia”, will be on display on the premises of the Nordic Museum in the summer of 2010. Everyone living in Seattle or in the vicinity of Seattle we sincerely hope will find the interest to view this exhibit next summer.
In Seattle I also met the artist Phil Fagerholm. Some of his artwork we packed into two big suitcases which I took back on the plane to Åland for the exhibit “Åland → America footprints Warner Sallman ♦ Phil Fagerholm ♦ Haddon Sundblom – peddling messages – “ in Åland in September 2009. It meant my luggage on the plane was overweight – but it was really worth it.
Exhibitions during 2008 and 2009
By now our “Russian exhibition” has been displayed in Helsingfors twice, at the Institute of Migration’s Ostrobothnian Regional Centre in Peräseinäjoki, in Hangö as well as in Malmö, in southern Sweden, where Maria Enckell and I presented it at Sweden’s Coalition of Genealogical Societies’ year-end conference in August 2008.
In September 2008 the Emigrant Institute together with the Åland Maritime Museum borrowed an exhibit from the Institute of Migration featuring the Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage. Three Ålanders who were drowned in this terrible accident were in focus for the exhibition. In March 2009 the Titanic exhibit was displayed once more at Föglö library, where at Christmas time of 2008 the exhibit “Haddon Sundblom’s American Christmas” had been on display – the very right place for it as Haddon Sundblom’s ancestors came from the community of Föglö. This exhibit featuring Sundblom’s Santa Claus created for the Coca-Cola Company was originally produced by the Emigrant Institute and displayed at the Åland Museum during Christmas Season of 2007.
In October / November 2008 the exhibit “In the Footsteps of Nicholas Delin: the Swedish Presence in Tacoma and Pierce County – 1850-1996” was put up at the Åland Museum. This exhibit was produced for the celebrations of the Swedish Immigration Sesquicentennial 1996-97 and was originally displayed at the Tacoma Library. At the opening ceremony at the Åland Museum Brian Magnusson, of Tacoma and whom some of you know for sure, gave a lecture featuring the Swedish emigrants / immigrants, their lives and history in the region to a crowded and most fascinated audience.
The annual meeting of the Emigrant Institute Society was held on April 26. Erik Lindholm was unanimously re-elected President of the Emigrant Institute Society for another term. This year John Malmquist, who returned to Åland in 2000 after 45 years in New York, was appointed Honorary Member of the Åland Islands Emigrant Institute Society. The Institute also officially thanked Lars Birger Blomqvist for his assistance and support in benefit of the Institute for so many years and in so many ways.
The Membership Fee of 2009
The membership fee for 2009 is 10 euro, the same as last year. The fee can be paid to the account of the Åland Islands Emigrant Institute at Ålandsbanken (ÅAB 660100-1206770) in Mariehamn or by sending a cheque. It is also possible to pay for two or three years at the same time if you find it more practical. New members are very welcome.
The Emigrants’ Day of 2008 and of 2009
The Emigrants’ Day of 2008 was celebrated at Pellas shipmaster’s homestead, today a museum, in Lemland. The Åland descendant Patty Conroy from California gave a lecture about her comprehensive and most fascinating research on the Lundberg family and her great grandmother Mina Lundberg, who had a life full of hardships but was a most admirable woman. Patty Conroy, her husband Bill, cousin Gail and husband Duane Dower came for their first visit to Åland to see their Lundberg relatives. I can tell their visit was as much welcome as awaited by all and everyone and the old Pellas cowshed was really crowded not only by relatives but also by members of the Society, as well as other guests. We listened to music from a violin and an accordion, were told the captivating history of the Pellas farm, not least about the devastating fire at Christmas 2005, had coffee and sandwich and then, in the end, had the opportunity to see the newly reopened museum which was just beautiful!
This year’s Emigrants’ Day will be celebrated quite late, in the end of August or in the beginning of September. Artist Phil Fagerholm of Seattle will tell us about his artwork and the Art/Not Terminal Gallery he has been an active member of all since it started in 1988. The reason why we have chosen Godby Hotel in Finström for this year’s event is that it is run by Phil’s relative Kjell Fagerholm.
At the Emigrant Institute we are arranging two seminars this coming autumn. The first one, on September 22-24, is in many ways very special. It got its starting point when we planned an exhibit featuring the work of the three Åland descendants, artists Warner Sallman, Phil Fagerholm and Haddon Sundblom, now called “Åland → America footprints Warner Sallman ♦ Phil Fagerholm ♦ Haddon Sundblom – peddling messages – “. Here prints of originals by Sundblom and Sallman as well as original artwork by Phil Fagerholm will play an important part. For the conference we have invited five panel experts from the USA who will discuss the impact of these three Åland descendants on the culture of the North American continent. During the conference we will visit the homesteads of Warner Sallman and Haddon Sundblom in Föglö one day and the next day we will make an excursion to the homesteads of Phil Fagerholm’s ancestors in Jomala and Geta. We are delighted that the artist Phil Fagerholm of Seattle will attend the conference in person. We are very much looking forward to this conference we think will be most fascinating. (Please see enclosed information)
The second conference will take place in Autonomous Åland Islands’ Government Building on October 9-11. When, in March 2007, we heard the XVth Swedish Language Family History Conference, by-annually arranged by the Genealogical Society of Finland, was not yet decided where to take place the Emigrant Institute offered to host this big event, and our offer was accepted! Now we find ourselves organizing a big conference for 150-200 people – or even more! – in cooperation with the Genealogical Society of Finland, the Provincial Archives of Åland, the G-Group – Genealogy across the Baltic (Sweden) as well as the Nordic Association on the Åland Islands. We have worked on the programme and the arrangements for months. As this year of 2009, two centuries have passed since the Kingdom of Sweden lost its Eastern part, today’s Finland, to the Russian Empire in the war of 1808-1809, we wanted to celebrate this historical event and planned the Conference much wider than usually. The heading of the Conference is “1809-2009: Contacts tied – untied – retied” and covers the whole time span of history of the past two centuries. (Please see www.eminst.net for information). We are happy to tell that Britt Lundberg, the Åland Minister of Culture, will open the Conference and the Keynote Speaker will be Helen Jane Knagg Simeonoff, artist and genealogist of Anchorage, Alaska. I had the privilege of meeting Helen on my visit to Alaska last fall. By meeting her the poster on the Knagg family in our “Russian exhibition” became even more alive to me, and hopefully Helen got to know a little more about her ancestors in Finland!
During the Conference the partakers have the unique opportunity to view three of the Emigrant Institute’s exhibits, the “Russian exhibition”, “Haddon Sundblom’s American Christmas” as well as the exhibit “Åland → America footprints...”.
As you can see we have a very challenging programme here at the Emigrant Institute this autumn. I wish that all of you could come over and take part in it. I also hope to see all of you when we come to Seattle with our “Russian exhibition” next summer. Please remember, whenever you come to the Åland Islands you are always welcome to drop in at the Emigrant Institute. We are situated in the centre of Mariehamn just waiting for you to show up. – Wishing you all all the best!
The Åland Islands Emigrant Institute, Norra Esplanadgatan 5, AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland e-mail: email@example.com ph. +358-(0)18-13325