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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Fitchburg 2006

4th Finglish trip September 2006 #6

In Fitchburg, Massachusetts, rapid industrialization also attracted Finnish immigrants. The industrial workers were actively involved in different pastimes and the ideology of the labour movement spread. At the edge of the local athletic field is the Sisu (Finnish for “guts”) monument. The town still has its Saima Park, where Midsummer celebrations are held for Finns and which is rented to outsiders for celebrations.

The longest-running Finnish-language newspaper in America was Raivaaja of Fitchburg, which ceased to be published soon after its 100th anniversary in 2009. It became The Pioneer, a web publication in English. In its prime, Raivaaja had its own printing house. Raivaaja's last editors were Marita Cauthen and Jonathan Ratila.

In its early years, Raivaaja was a radical newspaper loyal to the Socialist Party of America. In the early 1920s Raivaaja moved to a moderate social democratic position during the factional war of the Finnish Socialist Federation. The paper peaked with a circulation of 10,000 in 1927 before a long downward slide. The list of editors include major names of Finnish American labor movement such as Santeri Nuorteva, Aku Päiviö, Frans Josef Syrjälä and Oskari Tokoi.

In 1915 The Knights and Ladies of Kaleva of Fitchburg purchased land at Fort Pond in Lancaster.

Since then Panun Maja & Kantelletaren Tupa members and families have spent summers at the Kaleva Lodge.

Next The Uljas Koitto Temperance Society Pembroke Massachusetts USA

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