September 14-December 1, Finnish American Heritage Center
OPENING RECEPTION and talk by Dr. Hilary Virtanen, “An Unpopular History: Uncovering Copper Country Antiwar Stories in World War”, September 14, 7pm Finnish American Heritage Center
Copper Country Voices of Dissent in the Great War explores the ways in which Copper Country residents expressed dissent to the United States’ entry into World War I, particularly through local response to the initiation and enactment of the Selective Service, the national military service draft system. In a region still recovering from the deadly and divisive Copper Strike of 1913-1914, local attitudes and actions toward America’s entry into the war continued to reflect social, ethnic, and class divisions made bare during the strike. Ongoing suspicion toward ethnic and political groups active in the strike was supported by the sudden shift in American policy and propaganda about the war as well as a tide of nativism that swept the nation. Local residents were categorized into groups that made them easy to discriminate against: socialists, Industrial Workers of the World unionists, so-called enemy aliens (those who were born in Austria-Hungary or Germany), and the Finns, who had been the largest ethnic group active in socialist and unionist circles in the area since the turn of the century. The Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 gave the authorities and vigilante-minded citizens alike the power to monitor, report upon, and squelch the free speech of those who didn’t support the war in ways never before possible.
This exhibit is curated by Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen, Assistant Professor of Finnish & Nordic Studies at Finlandia University with research and design assistance from students and faculty in the International School of Art and Design and the Finnish & Nordic Studies Program. It is made possible through generous grants from the Finlandia Foundation National and the Michigan Council on Arts and Community Affairs/Copper Country Community Arts Center.
It will be on display September 14-December 1 at Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center, with subsequent showings at the Sulo & Aileen Maki Library and the Jutila Center for International Business, also on Finlandia’s campus. Admission to this exhibit is FREE.