Bill Hoglund, Finnish-American Scholar, Remembered

It is with sadness that the IHRC shares with our community news of the death of Bill Hoglund (A. William Hoglund), a long-time supporter of and researcher associated with the IHRC, who passed away on Thursday, May 1, in Florida.
Bill was a faculty member for many years in the History Department at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, and in 2004 he donated his large and distinguished collection of Finnish American and multi-ethnic research materials to the IHRC.

In his own research and teaching, Bill created great opportunities for Finnish American scholars, generating significant prominence for the emerging field of study and making the work of others possible through his Union List of Finnish American Newspapers. That work became the seed for the IHRC's own microfilming project, which allows researchers around the world access to all Finnish American newspapers known at the time of the project.

For his many friends and associates, we provide the following article, which details his long service and contributions to the field of Finnish American studies.

A. William Hoglund
(1926-2008)

HOGLUND, Arthur William, 81, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., passed away peacefully in the presence of friends on May 1, 2008. A. William (Bill) Hoglund was born in Baltimore, Md., on Sept. 4, 1926. He distinguished himself as an American historian, writing on agricultural and immigrant history, particularly of the Finns. His dedication and service to Finland led to Hoglund being knighted by the Republic of Finland in October 2004 and awarded the medal of the White Rose, Finland’s highest civilian honor.

Hoglund grew up in the upstate New York Finnish American community of Spencer-Van Etten, a community of abandoned farms that Finnish immigrants purchased and brought back to life as chicken farms. His parents, a Finnish born father and a Finnish American mother, left urban life and became chicken farmers, part of the co-operative farming community that formed there.

After graduating from Spencer High School in 1945, Hoglund attended Cornell University in New York, where he received a B.A. in history in 1949. He then enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he became the student of Merle Curti. He obtained graduate degrees in history (M.A. ’50, Ph.D. ’57). While working on his Ph.D., Hoglund was drafted and spent four years in the United States Army. His dissertation, Paradise Rebuilt: Finnish Immigrants and Their America, 1880-1920, was published as a book in 1960 entitled Finnish Immigrants in America: 1880-1920. Its encyclopedic collection of archival data on that community continues to be the basic source in Finnish immigration research. Rather than a history of immigrant institutions, the book comprised a study of social and intellectual history.

Hoglund accepted a position as assistant professor at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, in 1957 and taught there until 1961. In that year, he joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, where he rose to the rank of Professor of History. He remained at the University of Connecticut until he retired in 1997. He was the Government of Finland and David and Nancy Speer Visiting Professor of Finnish Studies at the University of Minnesota during spring 1998.

In his later work, Hoglund continued to cultivate the bibliographic skills he had first nurtured in his dissertation studies. Those skills became central to the Finnish newspapers in America microfilm project, 1984-88. That project resulted in Hoglund’s Union List of Finnish Newspapers Published by Finns in the United States and Canada, 1876-1985, and became the roadmap for the Immigration History Research Center’s Finnish American Newspaper Microfilming Project, which made available all existent newspapers as microfilm.

Hoglund curated the 1992 Library of Congress exhibition Bearers of the Word: Finnish Immigrant Literature in America 1876-1992, which highlighted the Finnish literary tradition in the U.S. and again created a new up-to-date bibliography of Finnish Americana. His own personal collection of materials, begun as a graduate student, grew throughout his career. He collected historic and contemporary materials, gathering together the single most important collection of Finnish Americana in private hands, arguably as significant as the archival collections at the Finnish American Historical Archives at Finlandia University and the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

Throughout his career, Hoglund specialized in immigration to the United States from Finland, although he also was known for his work in migration and ethnic studies. He became the Dean of Finnish American Studies, offering assistance to graduate students and other scholars working with Finnish American materials. His encyclopedic knowledge inspired and assisted a series of young scholars nurtured by the IHRC during the 1970s. In recognition of his long-time connections as a researcher, scholar and supporter at the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Hoglund contributed to that institution his entire Finnish library and numerous multi-ethnic historical materials. The Arthur William Hoglund Collection, once privately held, currently is being processed so that research materials can be made broadly available to scholars.

Bill Hoglund is survived by his life partner, Kaz Takahashi. A devoted son who cared for his parents while continuing his own academic career, Hoglund was preceded in death by his sister, Thelma, who died at age 19 in 1946; his father, Arthur Alexander Hoglund in 1992; his mother, Sigrid L. Hoglund in 1997.