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Legacy Media Kit

The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända

by Arlene Sundquist Empie

The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända, a compelling story about a young girl’s trek across North America from her grim arrival and quarantine in Quebec 1893, to Telluride, Colorado where she runs a boarding house, finally to realize her “American Dream” on a farm in the fertile Skagit Valley of Washington State.

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The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända includes historical information: Economic and social issues in 1890s Finland, Swedish-speaking Finns, mid-19th century Finnish nationalistic movement. Old letters and excerpts from unpublished manuscript add factual period accounts of life and times in early 20th century America.

Awards for The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända

WINNER Gold Medalist 2011 Multicultural Nonfiction,
Next Generation Indie Book Awards, IBPPG. Finalist: Historical Nonfiction
The National Best Books 2010 Awards Finalist Multicultural Nonfiction; The National Best Books 2010 Awards Finalist Narrative Nonfiction.
Silver Medal Multicultural Nonfiction Benjamin Franklin 2011 Award, Independent Book Publishers Assn.
“IPPY” Bronze Medal Multicultural Nonfiction 2011 Independent Publishers.

The West didn’t close in 1893, contrary to what American historian Frederick Jackson Turner proclaimed. There were opportunities for adventurous Nordic women who became part of America’s westward expansion.

Seduced by stories of promised riches in the New World and “America Fever,” that intense desire to emigrate to America, seventeen-year-old Ida Maria Andersdotter Lillbroända leaves her family in Ostrobothnia on the West Coast of Finland for a destination halfway around the globe to the wild western edge of the North American continent.

Ida crosses over the little bridge Lillbroända that is her namesake. Or is it the metaphysical, genetic, spiritual, metaphoric bridge to a new world, Ida being the link from the Old World to the new?

The compelling story about a young Finnish peasant girl follows Ida Maria Andersdotter Lillbroända’s trek across North America from her disappointing arrival in Quebec in 1893 where she is quarantined because of diphtheria aboard ship, to Minnesota and Telluride, Colorado where she marries an ore miner and manages their boarding house. Turbulent conditions at the mines prompt their return to Finland in 1901 for a visit. Her husband urges that they remain in Finland, but Swedish-speaking Ida Maria responds adamantly, “Till Amerika vi gå.” Finland is an autonomous Grand Duchy under Russian rule; her husband lacks appropriate papers, so Ida Maria enacts her stealth plan to get him aboard the ship to America.

The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända retraces the life of an ordinary woman who attains extraordinary achievements in her time and place. Historical, cultural and genealogical material are skillfully woven into the immigrant story as well as personal recollections of the author and those of the prior generation. As her daughters attest, Ida Maria is a determined young woman with a goal in mind and “a mind of her own.” Despite adversities and family tragedies, Ida Maria Sundquist fulfills her “American Dream” on their own farm in the fertile Skagit Valley of Washington State.

Arlene Sundquist Empie received Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College and Certificate for Narrative Nonfiction Writing, University of Washington. She is the author of Minding a Sacred Place under pen name Sunnie Empie, which received 2002 Independent Publishers “IPPY” Award for architecture book.

The Legacy of Ida Maria Lillbroända became a personal quest to find her Finnish roots, to learn about her cultural heritage and not the least, to fall in love with a place called Finland.

Skagit Valley in the Pacific Northwest is the author’s spiritual home. From her writer’s studio on an island in the San Juan archipelago, thought and memory meld into twilight moments overlooking the Salish Sea.


The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända:
Finnish Emigrant to America 1893
by Arlene Sundquist Empie

Narrative in American History/Nordic Studies
ISBN 978-1-931025-05-8 Clothbound $24 U.S.
LCCN 2010911060
Clothbound 288 pp, 6 3/8” x 9 1/4”
50 vintage photos, bibliography and index,
Alcorn Publications Design
Published and printed in U.S. by Boulder House Publishers
Distributed by Baker & Taylor and PartnersWest. Available at Independent Booksellers and Amazon.com.

What they have said

"Sundquist Empie has engaged an international research effort to ground the text in documented historic fact interspersed with a personal narrative made urgent by the momentum and frustration of her own search through the missteps and blind alleys that international and multi-lingual research takes her."

- Finnish American Reporter Book Review by Beth Virtanen Ph.D.
"Biography captures human drama of immigration" (pdf)

“Migration studies have traditionally focused on men as the typical immigrants whereas the fates and aspirations of women have received much less attention. I therefore wholeheartedly welcome this engaging study with a female protagonist who created a life for herself and her family in a new country. As the story follows the endeavors of a young immigrant woman in the early 20th century, yet another quest unfolds – the historical and genealogical detective work of the author striving to bridge the gap of generations.”

—Susanne Österlund-Pötzsch, Ph.D., co-author Swedish Folklore Studies in Finland 1828–1918

“An insightful analysis of a Swedish-speaking Finnish woman and of her adjustment within a multitude of different settings in the American West. A true account of the immigrant experience and an inspiration to all who knew Ida personally and her family.”

—Vincent O. Erickson, Retired Professor of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick and Editor of The Officers’ Quarters, York-Sunbury Historical Society, Fredericton, NB, Canada.

“A rich source of historical and genealogical information; a compelling story of courage, pioneer spirit, and family tradition and an inspiration for people of all ages coping with modern day society.”

—Gunnar Damstrom, Editor The Quarterly, Swedish Finn Historical Society

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