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Edith Koivisto papers

Identifier: IHRC1233


Papers (1904-1975) of Edith (Laine) Koivisto (1888-1981) consist of biographical material on her and Finnish Americans in Minnesota; art materials; diaries; creative works such as plays and newspaper articles; historical works and research notes; photographs; scrapbooks; and material relating to her activities in Finnish American organizations. Included are correspondence from Alex Kyyhkynen; John F. Kennedy; Lauri Lemberg; Fanny Ojanpaa; Harry S. Truman; Hans R. Wasastjerna; and others. Materials also include records of and other information on the Minnesota Finnish-American Historical Society; the Northern Minnesota Finnish Midsummer Festival; the Sovinto, Tapio and Totuuden temperance societies (Hibbing, Minnesota); the Tyovaen Opisto (Work People's College); Ladies of Kaleva; Central Cooperative Wholesale (Superior, Wisconsin); the Hibbing Art Center; and other cultural groups in the Hibbing area. The collection also includes correspondence and other papers of Arvid Koivisto (18- -1964) and of the Koivistos' daughter Armida (Koivisto) Caird (1922-1972). Major topics include the Finnish midsummer festivals; cooperatives; history of the Finnish Americans in Minnesota; the temperance movement and temperance societies.


  • 1903-1981


Language of Materials

Finnish and English


Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA.


Edith (Laine) Koivisto was born in Kuusankoski, Finland, on August 9, 1888. She attended public school in Finland and continued her education after immigrating to the United States in 1910. She lived in Spokane, Washington, with her sister and brother-in-law until the fall of 1912 and then borrowed money from a friend and moved to Smithville, Minnesota, where she attended Tyovaen Opisto (Work People's College). While at Tyovaen Opisto she worked as assistant manager, librarian, and part-time teacher in the correspondence school. On November 14, 1913, she married Arvid Koivisto, a fellow student at the school. They lived in the Duluth area while Edith worked as a bookkeeper for the Socialist Publishing Company and Arvid worked at various jobs and attended Duluth Business University. Between 1915 and 1918 he continued his education at Valparaiso University in Indiana while she remained in Minnesota. In 1920 the Koivistos moved to Quincy, Massachusetts, for a short time because Arvid had a job as manager of the Quincy Finnish Co-operative Grocery and Boarding House. While in Quincy, they were very active in the social and cultural activities of the local Finnish American community. Edith Koivisto directed and acted in theatrical productions and belonged to the I.W.W. After a brief trip to Finland, the Koivistos returned to the United States and made their home in Hibbing, Minnesota. Arvid Koivisto was manager of the Hibbing Co-op and then became an auditor for Central Cooperative Wholesale, a job he kept until his retirement forty years later. Edith Koivisto became involved in numerous choral groups and theatrical productions soon after her arrival from Finland. Especially during the period from 1915 through the early 1920s she was very active as both actor and director in numerous plays produced by various groups. She also performed as a singer and director of various choruses. She continued to act as a chorus director until 1940.

Writing was another favorite activity of Edith Koivisto. During the 1940s, she published frequently in the local Hibbing papers and in the Cooperative Builder. She had her own gardening column in the Hibbing Tribune and the Cooperative Builder as well as a column called "Good Books and Common Sense" in the Cooperative Builder. She also wrote numerous plays in both Finnish and English and translated Carmen into Finnish. Her plays are generally one- or two-act plays and include radio plays and skits. One of her plays, "Paavo ja Agadonna," won a prize in the Northern States Co-op Guilds Play Contest in 1936. She continued her writing in the 1950s with "The Pledge - History of the Finnish Temperance Movement in Hibbing from 1895-1957" (1958) and "Hibbing ja Hibbingin Suomalaiset" ("History of the Finns and the Village of Hibbing," 1957). The former was commissioned by the Sovinto Temperance Society of Hibbing and the latter by the Minnesota Finnish-American Historical Society, Duluth. Edith Koivisto was also involved with the writing of the Minnesotan Suomalaisten Historia (History of the Finns in Minnesota) edited by Hans R. Wasastjerna. She contributed articles to many Finnish American newspapers and periodicals such as Siirtokansan Kalenteri and Kalevainen.

In the late 1940s, Edith Koivisto tried her hand at painting and had her first one-woman show in 1950. During the 1950s and 1960s she had approximately twenty such exhibits, most of them in the Hibbing Public Library. Edith Koivisto also participated in more than thirty group shows, not only in Hibbing but as far away as New York City. She won numerous prizes for her works.and presented paintings to Presidents Truman and Kennedy. She was president of the Hibbing Art Center in 1951-52 and was very active in that organization for many years. Koivisto was also a leading member of the Hibbing Tuesday Musicale and other civic and social organizations in Hibbing.

In the midst of all these other activities, Edith Koivisto found time to attend classes at Hibbing Junior College (1933-35, 1953-55) and to travel. In 1959, she was invited to Finland to attend the 57th Congress of the General Cooperative Union. She spent the summer of 1959 in Finland and wrote a series of articles for the Tyovaen Osuustoimintalehti about her trip.

Mrs. Koivisto's husband died in 1964, and their only daughter, Armida Caird, died nine years later. Edith Koivisto died in Hibbing, Minnesota, on December 22, 1981.


12 Linear Feet

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Edith Koivisto papers were acquired from Edith Koivisto of Hibbing, Minnesota in 1975.


Related collection at IHRC Archives: Central Cooperative Wholesale (Superior, Wisc.) records.

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Collecting Area Details

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