Our beautiful mother Karen Erickson (Orvik) passed away on March 10, 2019. She lived life in constant forward motion, always assuming that time could keep pace with her projects, visions and dreams. She was devoted to her children, and dedicated her life's work to higher education as a scholar, professor and dean.
One of her proudest accomplishments as a scholar was interviewing all 200 members of the Finnish Parliament in 1959 at the age of 22 while a Fulbright scholar in Helsinki. These interviews became the basis of her research for her doctoral thesis at Harvard University, and provide a unique perspective on Cold War history.
Working with a Finnish scholar, she began the laborious process of transcribing and translating her own shorthand from these 200 interviews for her book, Tehtävä Helsingissä, which was published in 2013. There are still over 100 interviews left to transcribe and her book has not yet been translated into English.
As her children, we know how much the realization of this project would mean to her legacy. We are raising funds in her memory to complete this important work, so that her original research and her unique story are included in this seminal chapter of Finnish history, for future generations to access.
Our goals are to share the completed interview transcriptions with the national archives at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. and the permanent archives of Finland’s Parliament. We also seek to commission an English translation of her book, Tehtävä Helsingissä.
For those who have not yet seen the Finnish documentary "Karen and Grigori" (2014) about her life in Helsinki during this time, here is a link to the complete documentary (in Finnish and Russian with English subtitles):