The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 200
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Finns, particularly, were culturally preadapted to New World condi-
tions. In one of several brilliant insights scattered almost as asides
through this book, Jordan tells us: "From the sixteenth century to the
twentieth, backcountry Finns have borne the brunt of forest coloniza-
tion, both in Finland and Sweden, and they were likely the principal
agents of diffusion in introducing the Fenno-Scandian form elements
that survived in Midland America. Indeed, the Finns who came to New Swe-
den constituted the only group to arrive in America already in possession of a
tested and successful woodland pioneering culture" (p. 148; italics added).
The author feels that the concepts of simplification and syncretism
are also supported by the findings of the study. Simplification, because
the field research shows that "in the diffusion of log construction from
each of the European source areas, only a minority of Old World styles
and techniques was successfully introduced" (p. 154); syncretism, be-
cause Midland American log farmsteads exhibit many Germanic and
even British elements grafted onto the Fenno-Scandian core.
This is an important book in several ways. Many material-culture
scholars have argued that material-culture evidence should be used to
test academic hypotheses; this book does just that. It is also a model for
the reporting of field research in vernacular architecture; the maps,
drawings, tables, and photographs present the results with great clarity.
Among the group of historians, folklorists, and geographers who have
written with great assurance and some heat about the European origins
of American log structures, Jordan is the only one who has made a sys-
tematic survey of the source regions. The book contains so much valu-
able documentary material, and the author makes such elegant argu-
ments for his conclusion, that it seems almost unsportsmanlike to point
out that the evidence, so presented, really does not support that conclu-
sion. But this is the case.
The book's hypothesis and methodology require that a close correla-
tion be shown between the most common construction features in Mid-
land American log buildings and Fenno-Scandian buildings. Jordan
summarizes the results of his surveys of construction features in two
tables (pp. 147 and 149), and these tables simply do not show that cor-
relation. They list forty-one construction features of Midland log farm-
steads, followed by symbols to indicate how frequently each of these
features appears in each of the proposed European source regions.
Different symbols are used to represent five different degrees of fre-
quency: "very common," "common," "occasional," "rare," and "absent."
In the accompanying text, Jordan asserts that thirteen of these fea-
tures "find their closest European equivalents in the Baltic lands and
should, therefore, be considered probable introductions from Sweden
and Finland" (p. 146). Never mind that, in the absence of a hierarchy
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/227/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.