Local Immigration History- the Finns of Cheshire County

8 + 8 =

Grades: 6-8, 9-12. Lessons (2). Students will learn about local immigration history by analyzing primary sources pertaining to the Finnish community in Cheshire County.

These lessons are made available to teachers for free thanks to the support of the Finlandia Foundation.


Students review a quick history of Finnish immigration to the US and to Cheshire County specifically.

Essential Questions:

1. How can primary source documents help us understand the past and the present?

2. What are the strengths and the limitations of primary sources?

3. How do local stories, in particular, enhance our understanding of the past and our own communities?

Lesson 1: Evidence of Finns in Cheshire County, NH

Students will analyze historic photographs to answer the questions:   How do historians learn about people from the past?  What are the everyday objects in our own lives that have the power to tell people more about who we are?


1. To determine what kind of information primary sources provide us.  What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?

2. Find clues to help students understand a family of the past.

3. Develop fact-finding skills and research skills.

Lesson 2: Making Inferences about the Past

Students will analyze archival photographs and documents related to the Lahti family of Cheshire County, a Finnish family that moved to Russia for work during the Great Depression and ended up in Russian gulags.   Students will understand that one family’s story is connected to regional, national and international history.


1. To determine what kind of information primary sources provide? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?

2. To make inferences based on the information introduced by a primary source.

3. To explore change over time in the students’ own community, state, country, or the world.

4. To explore how families of the past (and their personal experiences) are the same as today.

5. To understand that historical research is more than what’s available digitally or online.