Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Delanna Reed

Committee Members

Joseph Sobol, Wesley Buerkle, Renee' Lyons


This study explores what oral history interviews with my mother reveal about the familial and community dynamics that influenced Finnish-American children growing up on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula between 1930 and 1950. Close to four hours of oral history interviews were conducted with Viola Nixon, who is second and third-generation Finnish-American on her father’s and mother’s sides, respectively. After conducting a narrative analysis of the interviews, five themes emerged as significant to community function: family, language, education, work and church. I grouped some of these themes together to create three stories informed by materials drawn from the interviews, a cookbook, and my personal experience. These stories were written for oral performance. The stories provide audiences the opportunity to learn about and feel empathy for America’s immigrants, as well as to explore their own immigrant roots. Opportunities for further studies exist to explore the immigrant experience on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.