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Ernest Theodore Koski papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: IHRC1258


Papers (1950-1983) of Ernest Theodore Koski (1908-1990) consist of a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings; sheet music; song books; phonograph records; typescripts of speeches, eulogies, travelogues, plays and Koski's autobiography; declassified FBI reports; correspondence; photographs; and memorabilia. Included is a series of articles entitled "Juuret Suomessa-Elama Amerikassa" (Roots in Finland -- Life in America) which Koski wrote for Tyomies-Eteenpain (1982-1983) and material on the Tyomies Society and Tyomies-Eteenpain.


  • 1950-1983


Language of Materials



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.

Biographical / Historical

Koski, Ernest1. Country of origin? 2. Occupation in native country? 3. Reason for immigration? 4. Date of immigration? 5. Did the author repatriate or remain in the U.S.? 6. State(s) and city(s) of settlement in the U.S.? 7. Occupation(s) in the U.S.? 8. Political affiliations in the U.S.? (also ethnic affiliations?) 9. Labor or occupational affiliations in the U.S.? 10. Information on family life?-nuclear and/or extended family? 11. Information on courtship or gender roles?12. Information on the wider ethnic community?13. Experiences with discrimination or political persecution?14. Any other outstanding features worthy of notice?15. Any account of the immigration process, voyage, Ellis Island inspection?0455 Ernest Koski. [Autobiography in English.] 46pp. 1. Ernest Koski was born in Nashwauk, Minnesota in 1908. His father Charles was born in Lappeenranta, Finland. Koski's grandfather used the last name of Koskinen. His mother Mary Jarvinen lived in Vaarajarvi, Finland. 2. Koski's father worked in the textile mills and machine shops. 3. Koski's father felt he might face conscription by the Russians. 4. No information. 5. Koski remained in the U.S., but visited Finland and his relatives. 6. Koski's father first settled in Michigan then moved to Minnesota Koski's mother first settled in Sandy, Minnesota with her brother and mother. After the Koskis were married they lived in Hibbing, Minnesota. In 1908 they moved to Nashwauk, Minnesota. In 1908 they again moved to Sandy, Minnesota. In 1914, a move was made to Virginia, Minnesota. In 1916 the family moved to the Chippewa Indian Reservation in Net Lake, Minnesota where Koski's father worked as a blacksmith. In 1917 they returned to Virginia, Minnesota. In 1918 land was purchased in Idington, Minnesota. Koski moved to Duluth, Minnesota. In 1928 he went to Muskegan, Michigan. He later returned to Duluth. He went to Gheen, Minnesota for work. After his marriage he moved to Togo, Minnesota. Later he moved to Oulu, Wisconsin, then to Marengo, Wisconsin. The couple went to Ontonagaen, Michigan, and later moved to Dunbar, Minnesota. In 1933 they went to Astoria, Oregon. In 1937 they returned to Wisconsin, living in Superior. In 1941 they moved to Phelps, Wisconsin. In Eagle River they bought a home. In 1944 a new job took him to Ironwood, Michigan. A new job returned him to Superior, Wisconsin. His wife stayed in Ironwood for one son to complete his schooling. 7. Koski's father first cut trees and later worked in the mines as a blacksmith. In 1908 the Koskis began homesteading. In 1917 Koski's father worked for the railroad. Koski began work hewing railroad ties when he was fifteen or sixteen. He also played the piano. He was a logger for his uncle. In 1928 he dug sewer ditches in Duluth, Minnesota for two weeks. In Michigan he worked in a foundry. He quit and later went to work for a lumber company. He later apprenticed to a blacksmith. In 1929 he was helping his father and worked on a farm. He also worked in the cooperative store, later getting jobs in other stores. He later managed a co-op dairy. Later a grocery store and a service station were added. In 1937 he became a bookkeeper. He also served as a Works Progress Administration drama director. He and his wife both acted in the plays. He solicited advertising. In 1941 he accepted a manager's position in a cooperative store. He was drafted but a new law excluding older married men from the draft ended his enlistment. In 1950 he became manager for the Tyomies Society. 8. He attended courses given by the Young Communist League. He became a member of the Finnish Brotherhood despite his leftist views. In Phelps he ran for justice of the peace and won. He joined the Tyomies Society. 9. The blacksmith to whom he was apprenticed was a member of IWW. Koski remembered the Angora Farmers' Club and its early influence on his views of labor issues. He wrote about the 1936 West Coast Longshoreman and Seaman's Strike. He acted as bodyguard for Henry Bridges, head of the union, when Bridges gave a speech in Astoria. He wrote about the influence of McCarthyism in ending the International Workers Order. 10. Koski had two sons and a daughter. Koski felt his parents' political views influenced him. He learned Finnish and insisted on speaking Finnish in school. He taught Finnish to his children. Koski felt he was closer to his mother, since his father worked long hours. 11. Koski's parents were married in 1904. At a farmers co-operative meeting he remembered seeing his future wife. Impi Lahti lived in Orr and he travelled there frequently. When he was offered a job he proposed to her. She worked at the co-operative store. She later became a bookkeeper for the Tyomies Society. 12. In Duluth, his bosses were Swedish. He wrote about a French family in Dunbar. In Phelps he mentioned Swedes and Croatians. In Astoria there was an equal number of Finns and Chinese. In Virginia, Minnesota, there were more Italians than Finns. 13. At the age of ten he was called "Little Bolshevik" for defending the Russian Revolution. Koski was threatened for passing around Communist newspapers in the lumber camps. He was especially criticized by older Finns. He was fired by two cooperative stores for his leftist views. One store was patrolled to see that Communists wouldn't enter. He was arrested for holding a May Day celebration. Someone tried to bomb the dairy where he was manager. During World War II he was criticized for attacking Finland as an ally of Germany. His criticism of Finland caused his co-op to be expelled by Central Co-Op Wholesale. As an employee of a Tyomies Society newspaper he was visited by the FBI. FBI agents warned Finnish immigrants that they would be deported for reading the newspaper. Koski mentioned other events in his life listed in his FBI file. As a child in Virginia, Minnesota, he was called names by the Italian children. He had childhood memories of Finnish workers blacklisted after the 1907 strike. 14. Koski remembered life on the homestead, especially the trouble with bears. He also wrote about his life on the Chippewa Indian reservation. When Koski started work in Michigan he was concerned about raising money for a job fee. He was hired in a machine shop of the Continental Motor Works, but was placed instead in the foundry. Koski described his court case over the May Day celebration and the lack of justice to his friends. He described his efforts to help others during the depression. He talked about his 1965 visit to the Soviet Union. 15. Koski's father boarded on a ship thinking it would go to America. He landed instead in Barcelona, Spain. He went to London and boarded a ship going to America.


2.5 Linear Feet


Related materials located at IHRC in the Ernest Koski oral history, Finnish American Family History Collection.

Inventory of the Ernest Theodore Koski papers.
IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area