Mapping Migration Across America

When I first started the idea of this blog, I only had to things two go on.  First was that Finns started coming into the U.S. at Delaware.  Second was I had heard lots of stories about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minneapolis, New York, Berkeley, and Florida.  What I was missing was what had happened in between.  Then I found this map on Wikipedia.

The map shows those answering Finnish heritage in 2000 on the US Census.  Finns were in a lot of places.  But how did they get there.

Finnish Population Centers 2000

A great source of information for both research and images is the Siirtolaisuusinstituutti (Migration Institute) in Finland.  The Siirtolaisuusinstituutti is an organization in Finland that looks at immigration from Finland, migration within Finland, and most recently, emigration into Finland.  They provide great tools for research.  From the site I found two maps that helped me to fill in some blanks.

Finnish Population in 1931
Map by courtesy of
Institute of Migration in Finland

The map above from 1931 started to show some interesting concentrations.  See that little spot in Mississippi?  That is Kreole, Mississippi, which was home to fifty Finnish families until the 1940’s.  But the concentrations around the Great Lakes and Washington State are interesting too.

Finnish Distribution in 1899
Map by courtesy of
Institute of Migration in Finland

This map from 1899 creates some mysteries to resolve.  There’s a small dot in 1931’s map in Arizona near Nevada’s border.  That’s not here in 1899.  I also ran some searches and found a “Little Finland” in Nevada but near Arizona.  It is a rock formation but does it make sense to have been called “Finland”.  Only a bit more research will tell.

Looking at old Census records from 1910 seems to line up too. Below is a list in order of size of a state’s Finnish heritage where both parents were Finnish.  It’s going to be much easier to focus on large population centers.  Out of the top 10, I’m familiar with stories of a few of them.

1   Michigan 31,144 26   Vermont 293
2   Minnesota 26,637 27   Indiana 215
3   Oregon 17,407 28   Nevada 174
4   Massachusetts 10,744 29   Texas 160
5   New York 8,760 30   Iowa 140
6   Washington 8,719 31   West Virginia 127
7   Wisconsin 5,705 32   Missouri 120
8   California 4,734 33   Louisiana 118
9   Montana 4,111 34   Florida 89
10   Ohio 3,988 35   Mississippi 88
11   Pennsylvania 2,413 36   Nebraska 79
12   Illinois 2,390 37   Virginia 50
13   New Jersey 1,640 38   Georgia 49
14   Wyoming 1,380 39   Kansas 49
15   South Dakota 1,361 40   Maryland 47
16   Colorado 1,239 41   South Carolina 42
17   New Hampshire 1,198 42   Alabama 38
18   North Dakota 1,186 43   New Mexico 25
19   Utah 1,012 44   DC 21
20  Alaska (Territory) 976 45   Tennessee 21
21   Maine 831 46   Kentucky 18
22   Connecticut 776 47   North Carolina 18
23   Idaho 652 48   Oklahoma 18
24   Arizona 560 49   Arkansas 15
25   Rhode Island 297 50   Delaware 9
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