April 4, 1913: Duluth declared home of the most Finlanders in Minnesota

On this day in Duluth in 1913, the Duluth News Tribune reported that the U. S. Census office declared the Zenith City was home to more Finns than any other place in the United States. The data, collected in 1910, showed that 2,772 Finns lived in Duluth; the paper declared there must be more, since “there has been a big Finnish invasion since [the census].” The report showed that Duluth also led the state in Belgians, with 141. What about folks from Scandinavia? Sure “DaLoot” must have the most of those, right? Nope—Minneapolis lead the state in the number of Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes. Minneapolis was second only to Chicago in the number of Swedes and, the newspaper declared, “ranks close to Stockholm” as the foremost Swedish city in the world. St. Paul made up for its lack of Scandinavians by outranking Minneapolis in the number of Germans, Irish, and Italians. According to the report, in 1910 Duluth was home to 29,633 foreign-born citizens, including 1,165 Austrians, 141 Belgians, 1,423 French Canadians, 4,418 non-French Canadians, 405 Danes, 961 English, 2,772 Finns, 69 French, 2,595 Germans, 57 Greeks, 49 Dutch, 76 Hungarians, 620 Irish, 648 Italians, 5,009 Norwegians, 79 Romanians, 1,367 Russians, 554 Scots, 7,281 Swedes, 48 Swiss, 62 Asian Turks, 31 Welsh, and 363 from unspecified countries. At one point in Duluth’s history, much of what we call the Canal Park Business District today was home to so many Finns it was called “Finn Town.” Read about it here, and about “Swede Town,” home to Duluth’s Swedish-speaking Finns, here.

5 Responses to April 4, 1913: Duluth declared home of the most Finlanders in Minnesota

  1. In the years from 1840 to 1920 it is estimated that one-third of the total Scandinavian population immigrated to the USA. That was driven in large part because the fertility of the land could not keep up with the fecundity of the people. In the earlier part of that period starvation was not uncommon and in some areas of Finland it was so heavy it drove people westward into Sweden and Norway where the hard working Finns found jobs as servants, copper miners and other work. Many Finns in that situation worked until they saved or borrowed enough money to go to America. Because of that two-move process it is estimated that almost half of the Norwegian immigrants during that period were actually Finnish.

  2. Agreed, Peter. Even the Great Lakes Anishinabe/Ojibwe (“Chippewa”) were once immigrants from the east, and when they arrived they forced the Dakota/Lakota (“Sioux”) to leave the Lake Superior region and emigrate to the plains.

  3. My mom was born and raised in Parkano, Finland .. lived in Cherry Minnesota till moving to the Duluth area, where I grew up. 🙂

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