Ethnic Communities and Immigration

Dedicated to capturing the stories and spirit of the region, one way the Center for Upper Peninsula Studies achieves this goal is recording the oral histories of the area's residents. Each interview is done in person, recorded and then transcribed for ease of use. On this page, find interviews involving people from different ethnic communities and their immigration to the Upper Peninsula. 




Frankie Andriacci 

No Date Given 

Native of Ishpeming, Michigan Frankie Andraicci explores his family's settlement in the Upper Peninsula from Italy and his life growing up in the Great Depression. He discusses the ethnic groups he was surrounded by and his experiences centered around The Venice Supper Club. 

John Argeropolus & Mary Graphos

January 18, 2011

1916- 2011 Greek immigration to and life in Marquette, Michigan.  Occupations, return migrations, Greek family and extended family connections in other regions of the Upper Peninsula, Greek restaurants, candy shops, billiard hall, vending cart products, community celebrations, religion, Greek school, holidays, and ethnic traditions.  

Jessie Beattie

August 23, 1980

Jessie Beattie discusses her upbringing on her German grandparents farm in Ingallston Township, Michigan; Reichert farm; life during the turn of the 20th century; work in lumber camps; farming and canning; livestock; home steading; education in a log schoolhouse; selling goods in Cedar River and Menominee; and purchases from Montgomery Ward's.

Leonardo Beiler

December 2, 2014

Leonardo Beiler discusses his life before and after immigration to America; His family and educational background in Brazil; exchange student experience at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan; the actual process of how he came to U.S.; his working experience; advantage of getting into U.S. as a student; difficulties of getting visa as foreigners; unique social problems that he noticed in U.S.; how he went through the citizenship process; suggestion to somebody who want to get the citizenship; difference between Brazil and the U.S in terms of economy, education; thankful feeling to American government for the benefits he has got; double-sided ness of allowing immigration in U.S.

Demos Demosthenous

February 12, 1982

Demos Demosthenous discusses his immigration from the Greek island of Cyprus to Canada. Topics include his background and family, his career with Holiday Inn, his involvement with the Greek church, a man named Father Meletios, and the Greek community in Sault St. Marie, Ontario and Sault St. Marie, Michigan.

Lucille Dolan

March 27, 1987

Lucille Dolan discusses her father's immigration from Canada to Marquette, her Marquette born mother's brief British citizenship, French-Canadian culture in the Upper Peninsula, history of Marquette people and the area, and her own life and education.

Leo Doucette April 24, 1981 Canadian immigrant Leo Doucette gives details on his life growing up in Big Bay, Michigan. Note: only first half of interview is quality enough to transcribe. 

Halldor Egilsson 

July 25, 2010 

Icelandic immigrant Halldor Egilsson discusses his heritage and growing up in Marquette, Michigan in the 1960s. Also included are details of his life and culture throughout the Upper Peninsula. 

Hugo Eyzaguirre

November 25, 2014

Hugo Eyzaguirre explains his experience coming to the United States from Peru. Eyzaguirre lived in Peru's capital city of Lima before emigrating to the United States to obtain his masters degree and PhD. During his graduate studies Eyzaguirre lived in DC, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Miami. At the time of interview Eyzaguirre is living in Marquette and teaching at NMU. Eyzaguirre compares/contrasts United States v Peruvian concepts of poverty; educational institutions; social/cultural norms.

Camilla Fassbender

November 23, 2014

Camilla Fassbender discusses her life in former Czechoslovakia and her immigration from Slovakia to the United States. Topics include life in Czechoslovakia under Communism, the Velvet Revolution, her education, her family, the immigration process, her life in Marquette, languages, the current state of immigration and health care in the United States, and life in the United States vs. life in Slovakia.

Pete Gianekura

February 1, 1980 Pete Gianekura discusses his time in and around the Greek Orthodox Chrurch in Sault Saint Marie, Michgian. He aslo explains different customs and hoildays within the Greek community celebrated in Sault Saint Marie. 
Gertrude Gruber February 21, 2002 Gertrude Gruber discusses her Cornish heritage and her grandparent's immigration to the Upper Peninsula from Cornwall in the mid-1800s. She discuss the impact her heritage had on her life growing up in Hancock, Michigan in the early 1900s including religion, food, education, and entertainment. Insight is also given on the impact of the Great Depression on the Copper Country. 

Glenda Hiltunen

May 1, 2010

1913-2010, founding of Aura, Michigan community, Aura Community Hall, Scholarships, Aura Jamboree: advertisement, event records, food, facilities, health regulations, musicians, history of the Jamboree.

Milton, Merton and Sidney Holman  December 21, 2001 The Holman brothers vividly recall their childhood growing up in Negaunee as a Cornish family. They tell about life inside their family home along with their interaction with the many ethnic groups that were tied together by mining. 

Annti Jaar/Virta

March 10, 2015

In his March, 2015 interview Annti Jaar/Virta discusses his life and career in Finland and the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country. Annti began his career in metal research as lab technician in Finland before emigrating and continuing his research in New Jersey for the American Climax Company. Later, Annti moved to the Upper Peninsula and continued his work for notable ore mining companies including the White Pine Mine, Calumet & Hecla, and the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company under the direction of Tsu-Min Han. Annti is the last living technician to have worked with Tsu-Min Han, and during the course of the interview he explains what working for CCI and Tsu-Min Han was like from an inside perspective.

George Javor

August 17, 1983

George Javor discusses Italian Fishermen in Alaska and his work experience there. Topics included are Dr. Javor's immigration to the United States, his work in the dining room of the Alaska Packer Company, his experience with the Italian fishermen and the Alaska Packers' Union, the foods he served, and the operations of the fishing company.

Martha Johnson 

April 10, 1981

Martha Johnson discusses her life, starting with her schooling in Sweden, then immigrating from Sweden to Lathrop, Michigan, what life was like in Lathrop and the surrounding areas, and what life was like during World War I and World War II.

Peter Juntunen

February 3, 1987

Peter Juntunen narrates the early history of the Herman, Michigan community. He describes his life growing up, life during the Great Depression, farming and logging in the Upper Peninsula, and his job with the Department of Agriculture.

Rudy Kalchich  August 15, 2002 Rudy Kalchich gives his own life story growing up in Ironwood, Michigan discussing his Croatian heritage and his fathers immigration from Croatia in the early 1900s. Details include sharing stories from the community and aspects of Croatian culture. 

Rudy Kemppanen

January 19, 2012

Pastor Kemppanen discusses his Finnish background; his grandparents’ migration to the United States; their farm (located in Salo, MI); the Finnish community in the Upper Peninsula; mining; the Quincy mine; life growing up on his family’s farm; the process of milking cows; how he became interested in the ministry; his schooling at Hancock High School and Sumi College; his knowledge of the Finnish language; his seminary studies; the different branches of the Lutheran Church; the LCA; the Lutheran Church in the Upper Peninsula; his career; giving Finnish services; the Finnish culture; Finnish Christmas celebrations; Finnish traditions; Finnish socialists; the Toomies publishing company; Finnish communists; Finnish newspapers; preparing sermons; and the Finnish ethnic communityA

Alex Kloster January 12, 1989 First generation German-American Alex Kloster gives an in depth look into the lives of German immigrants in the eastern Upper Peninsula in the early 1900s, specifically surrounding Brimley. He discusses the various families, farms, customs, and foods of his upbringing. 

Zuang Zhong Lehmberg

December 3, 2014

Dr. Z.Z. Lehmberg biographic interview.  She describes coming to Marquette, MI from China near her twentieth birthday, emigrating to the U.S., and teaching career at Northern Michigan University.  Discusses the involvement with U.S. China People’s Friendship Association, founded by Dr. John Saari.  Working toward a middle of the road meeting between the Western and the Eastern philosophies and cultures.

Olive Liikene

No Date Given

Born in Finland in 1914, Olive describes her family’s immigration from Finland to Canada, then to Ironwood, Michigan.  Describes growing up in Ironwood, Michigan 1920s-30s, and Norrie mine location, Iron ore mining, depression, WPA, home and family life, traditions, holidays, being a Finnish immigrant, Finnish spoken at home growing up, travel, education. 

Katherine (Kathryn) Liimatainen

March 4, 1987

Katherine Livermore discusses life growing up in a Finnish community in Aura, Michigan. She describes the many jobs she held as a companion and caretaker, working at the L'Anse boarding house, and as a cook for the Friedmans in White Pine. She describes the Finnish practice of cupping and other Finnish home remedies. Katherine describes the Finnish foods and handmade goods made by her parents. She discusses events that happened in her life and the lessons she learned from them.

Bertha Livermore

June 4, 1983

Bertha Livermore describes the Michigan Timber Worker's Strike of 1937 at the Newberry Lumber and Chemical Company, the relations between the Finnish and the Swedish in Newberry, the combining of the Finnish and Swedish churches in Newberry, and other aspects of life in Newberry during the mid twentieth century. 

George Mahalic

No Date Given

George Mahalic briefly discusses his Croatian - Yugoslavian heritage and associated aspects of these immigrants in Escanaba, MI.

Helga Mansfield

November 13, 2014

Helga Mansfield describes her immigration experience, moving from Germany to the Chicago area in the 1960s.  Beginning with a civil service exchange program between police departments, she describes her experience with the lengthy immigration-naturalization process.  Interviewed by Maranda MacMaster, her granddaughter, for Immigration History.

Ray Maurin

August 15, 2002

Ray Maurin briefly discusses his Croatian heritage, including the lives of his parents and grandparents and Croatian food.

Father Meletios Christofou February 16, 1982 Father Meletios speaks of his mission work and travel all over the world. 
Father Meletios Christofou February 23, 1982 Father Meletios discusses his travels all over the world including, Africa and the Middle East and the main differences between life in Africa and life in the U.P.
Father Meletios Christofou February 5, 1982 Father Meletios explains the difference between the Greek Orthodox Church and other churches in the Sault Saint Marie area. He explains the different denominations within the Orthodox faith as well as an Orthodox school he has helped set up. Please note that although he has the same name as Father Meletios Christofou he is in fact a different person. He and Father Meletios were very close so he took his name as a symbol for respect and appreciation. 
Mary Miketinac June 8, 1988 Mary Miketinac  discusses her life growing up as a Croatian in Hermansville, Michigan. She tells of their life after immigrating to the United States and the culture of Hermansville because of the immigration consisting of foods, holidays, the lumber mills, and memberships to the Croatian lodges.

Anna Josephine Therese Murvich

February 15, 1983

Anna Murvich discusses her Slovenian heritage, how her family immigrated to the Calumet area, and some of the cultural aspects that were preserved.

Carl Pallompaa

November 19, 2002

Carl Pallompaa discusses his work in television and radio in the Upper Peninsula, specifically his work on the Finnish television program “Finland Calling.” Also a biographical interview, discussing his parents’ migration from Finland to the Negaunee/Ishpeming area, working in the mines, and being Finnish in the Upper Peninsula.

Michelle Pehlman

November 29, 2014

Michelle Pehlman lived on St. Croix Island until the second grade when she attended school in Trinidad.  Following Hurricane David in 1978, her family moved to Riverside California.  She studied at Oral Robert’s University in Tulsa, Oklahoma and has since lived in Baltimore, MD, and currently resides in Birdsboro, PA.  She discusses her perception of life in each of these places, why her family moved to California and Hurricane David, her immediate family’s employment, her family’s transition to American culture and life, the effect of racism, the difference between heritage and culture, cultural pressure, her faith and its influence on her transition, and her opinions regarding current immigration issues.

Frank Plautz No Date Given  The son of a Slovenia immigrant, Frank Plautz talks about his heritage and family history of immigration to the United States in the late 1800s where they finally settled in Calumet, Michigan. He discusses ethnic customs, work, religion, and relations between the different groups of, at the time, Yugoslavia. 
Frank Plautz November 22, 1982 Frank Plautz talks about his Slovenian heritage and what it was like growing up in Calumet, Michigan with 14 siblings. He talks about the pastimes, important holidays, and other aspects of general life.

Domenaca Russo and Vincent Villa

November 15, 2007

Domenaca Russo and Vincent Villa discuss their family and parent’s origins from San Jorjo Canavese near Torino, Italy to the Copper Country and later to New Swanzy, Michigan during the Depression.  Additional Italian last names and origins are mentioned, speaking Italian at home, moonshine, death of father, bootlegging, foods, and family history.

John Rodman June 8, 1988 John Rodman, a Croatian immigrant, tells about his life in Hermansville, Michigan. John explains about some of the difficulties he faced coming from Europe but mostly how much better the United States was compared to his old life in Croatia. He adds some stories about the Hermansville community as well as his many years of involvement in the community's lodge.
Mary & Anna Rodman June, 2, 1988 Mary and Anna shares stories of growing up in Hermansville, Michigan. These two sisters share how different Hermansville is now compared to when they were growing up. Yet despite all of the changes, they still are proud of their Croatian settlement  and their Croatian Heritage in the Upper Peninsula.

Adorno "Babe" Salani

August 23, 2010

Adorno Salani discusses his family's immigration to the United States and the Upper Peninsula from Italy, how his family made it through the depression, and his involvement volunteering at Marquette hospitals.

Glen Seaborg  March 21, 1996  Ishpeming native Glen Seaborg discusses the many interesting aspects of growing up during the early 1900s including many details of Swedish culture incorporated into daily life. He also discusses ethnic diversity in the town, his education, ski jumping, community, and food. 

Bodil Soderberg

April 19, 2011

Bodil Soderberg speaks with Dr. Russell Magnaghi about her Finnish and Swedish heritage, customs that have been retained or eliminated, and how she came to reside in the Upper Peninsula.

Monsignor David Spelgatti August 5, 1993 Monsignor David Spelgatti discusses the boarding houses in Negaunee in the early 1900s that were populated by mainly Italian immigrants. He talks about daily life, the boarders, his family, and the Italian heritage of the area. 

Tanya Stanaway

May 5, 2010

Tanya Stanaway discusses her interest and history as a musician, as well as the Aura Jamboree in Aura, MI.

Juanita Velasco

February 22, 1995

Juanita Velasco discusses life in the small villages of Guatemala, how the rural culture has been changing over the years, and how those local economies thrive through textile trade. She speaks about some of the Mayan traditions that are still held today and some that are gradually being lost due to tourism and the influence of American and European culture in those communities.

Helen Waisanen

April 22, 2010

Helen Waisanen discusses the development and her participation in the Aura Jamboree.