A. William Hoglund
Finnish North American Literature Association
A. William Hoglund
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
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.
Finnish Immigrants in America 1880-1920. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press,
Finns. In S. Thernstrom, A. Orlov, and O. Handlin (eds.) Harvard Encyclopedia of
American Ethnic Groups. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,