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Carl Ross papers

Identifier: IHRC2288


Papers (1935-2000) of Carl Ross (1913-2004) consist of correspondence, brochures, photographs, newspaper clippings, essays and other published materials relating to the Minnesota Finnish American Family History Project; the founding and activities of the United Fund for Finnish American Archives (meeting minutes, by-laws, press releases, letterhead, and other materials) and the organizing of two Reunion of Sisters conferences (1986 and 1987).

The Carl Ross papers consist generally of material documenting Ross’ professional life. Series I (Biographical and personal) includes few materials regarding personal and family life of Carl Ross. Series II (Projects), which makes up the bulk of the collection, is divided into sections pertaining to various projects Ross was involved in, for many of which he was the director or coordinator. Series III (Written works) consists of materials that were written by Ross. This material is in draft form for the most part, though some of these drafts evolved to become published works. Series IV (Miscellaneous) contains materials on a large variety of topics, some including political research Ross did to find out more information about individuals, a collection of other people’s writing (alphabetical by last name), photos, and correspondences with no specific regard to a particular project Ross was working on. Series V (Heritage Preservationist) Materials in this series were donated by Carol Johnson and regard her work with Carl Ross on the Finnish-American newsletter, “The Heritage Preservationist.”


  • Creation: 1935-2000


Language of Materials

English, Finnish


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.


Carl Ross was born on July 22, 1913, in Hancock, Michigan, and grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, where he graduated from high school in 1931. His father was a Finnish immigrant and his mother was born of Finnish immigrant parents. Ross was active in youth, labor and radical movements. Among other organizations, he was involved in the Labor Sports Union and the Finnish American newspaper "Tyomies." From the 1930s into the 1950s he served in a variety of leadership positions at the national level in the Young Communist League and the Communist Party.

After leaving the Party in 1957, Ross developed a successful electrolyting business. Upon his retirement in 1972 he became an independent scholar, devoting his time to research and writing about Finnish American, radical, and labor history. In 1977, Ross published "The Finn Factor in American Labor, Culture, and Society" which Rudy Vecoli, then the Director of the Immigration History Research Center, deemed "a very important work which really launched Finnish American Studies. He (Ross) played a critical role in bridging the chasm between the ‘Red Finns’ and the ‘Church Finns." The Minnesota Finnish American Family History Project (1979-1981) led to the publication of "Handbook for Doing Finnish American Family History," co-authored by Ross. All of the family histories gathered for this project are available to researchers at the IHRC.

Ross was active in the United Fund for Finnish-American Archives in the 1980s. This organization launched the project "1983: Year of the Finnish-American Archives," an awareness and fund-raising venture. Ross was vital in the assembling of the photo exhibit "Courageous Enough" which would eventually develop into the publication Ross co-edited and contributed to, "Women Who Dared: The History of Finnish American Women" (1986). He also co-authored a book, published in 2006, two years after his death, "By the Ore Docks: A Working People’s History of Duluth." Carl Ross died on March 1, 2004, in Minneapolis.


3 Linear Feet


Series I. Biographical and Personal

Series II. Projects

Subseries I. Courageous Enough Photo Exhibit; Subseries II. Finn Fest; Subseries III. Minnesota Finnish American Family History Project; Subseries IV. Radicalism, 20th Century; Subseries V. Reunion of Sisters; Subseries VI. United Fund for Finnish American Archives

Series III. Material by Carl Ross

Series IV. Miscellaneous

Series V Heritage Preservationist

Series VI. Oversize materials


Collection acquired from Carl Ross in 1997, and from Carol Johnson in 2010. It was processed in 2011 by IHRC student assistant Mia Overly working with Research Archivist Daniel Necas.

Inventory of the Carl Ross 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