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Genealogy Corner

This month we are printing the third and last part of a lecture delivered at a genealogical conference in Vasa, Finland, in September 1992 by the genealogist, Ragnar Mannil, and printed in the Finnish magazine Sukutieto, published by the Computerized Genealogical Society of Finland, in January 1993.

It has been translated from the Swedish by Syrene Forsman and is published with the permission of Mr. Mannil and the Computerized Genealogical Society of Finland. There is, in addition, an interesting genealogical chart from Alcenius' Sursilliana, which was discussed in Part I printed in the November 1994 issue of the Leading Star, and we will publish that in our next issue as a conclusion to this article.
Sue Alskog

Ragnar Mannil

Promoters of Genealogical Research

It can be useful for today's genealogical researcher to imagine the conditions to which the Ostrobothnian researchers had to resign themselves, even up to the 1950's, since no copiers, no microfilms were available, since archive catalogues with indexes had not yet been established, and above all since the genealogical researchers were still without cars. Sometimes Woldemar Backman was compelled to, in short, state in an investigation that an individual has "disappeared from the church records". Then it was good to have colleagues as kind, helpful friends. Karl Hedman has already been mentioned as such a one.

When one studies the rather sparse references to sources in the genealogical reports of that time, one often discovers the words "information from Hugo Lagström". Senior instructor Hugo, Lagström, (b.1894 in Jakobstad), working as a secondary school teacher in Björneborg teaching natural sciences, deserves to be mentioned as a great promoter of genealogical research in Ostrobothnia. He was himself a very productive author. In the new Genealogical Index he is represented by 83 publications, a large number with ties to Karleby and Gamlakarleby which were his school's location and hometown respectively. When you study his production and remember his goodwill towards country cousins doing research in the provinces, one suspects that the National Archives in Helsingfors were likely somewhat of a second home to him. And when one needed advice, one didn't need to wait a long time for a answer. His collected papers are now administered by Jakobstadsnejdens släkt- och bygdeforskare (Jakobstad's Genealogical and Historical Research Society).

A second persevering researcher, like Hugo Lagström having roots in northern Swedish Ostrobothnia, was Gösta Näse. Innumerable are those researchers who have been rescued by him when information was needed from the National Archives in Helsingfors, where he resided. He can also be reckoned as a researcher who never left a colleague in the lurch. His production within the purely genealogical is sparse, but he left behind a rich collection which is now administered by genealogists in Kronoby at the Torgare rectory.

South of Vasa sat another industrious researcher in his home territory's church records compiling genealogical analyses of the farming families in Övermark. How he managed that, too, no one knows. He was a farmer, active in local government and various associations. He wrote the protocols at important functions. He was the local photographer, who immortalized all the important events in the district. His name was Alfred Franzen (born 1882). His contribution is impressive enough in its breadth. Between 1948 and 1956 he presented some thirty genealogies of the countryside's people, some in the newspaper Syd-Österbotten, some in Kaskö Tidning, occasionally in the Vasabladet. He also saw to it that the newspapers furnished reprints, which unfortunately are often rather irregular in format.

Genealogy Today a National Movement

The newest phase in Ostrobothnian genealogy can be characterized as teamwork, collaboration and networking in the national movement which has grown up around the interest in genealogy. In nearly every locality we find organized groups of genealogists, sometimes as an independently registered association. The oldest is no doubt Jakobstadsnejdens släkt- och bygdeforskare (Jakobstad's Genealogical and Historical Research Society) which was founded already in 1952 and as such can celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Folk high schools and vocational schools made an important contribution to the education of the new genealogists. We meet such groups and associations in Karleby district, Kronoby, Terjärv, Larsmo, Jakobstad, Oravais, Vörå, Vasa, Övermark, and not least in Närpes. Several of these associations have their own libraries and archives. Vörå släkt- och hem- bygdeforskare (Vörå Region Genealogical and Historical Research Society) is the majority owner of the district's cultural center. Annual publications are released under a variety of titles: Karlebynejden (Karleby Region), Släkt och Hävd (Genealogy and Traditions), Släkt och Bygd (Genealogy and the Countryside), Ätteläggen (Family Lines), Vasa släkt- och hembygdsforskares medlemsblad (Vasa Genealogical and District Historical Society's Membership's Paper), Släktspejaren (Family Searching), Axplock (Gleanings). But other publications with a somewhat broader content also serve the local genealogical work: Murmursunds Allehanda (Murmursund's Miscellaneous), I rågens rike (In the Land of rye), and many, more. Sometimes genealogical associations also publish their own newspaper: Klemetsöbladet and Smedsbladet (the Klemetsö Paper and The Smith's Paper), just to name a few.

Diligent Researchers

Among the Ostrobothnian genealogists' diligent representatives, beyond those I've already mentioned, it is easy to include many others: Paul Andersson in Jakobstad, Ragnar Hagman in Sundom, K. V. Åkerblom in Kvevlax - a prolific researcher who has filled dozens of thick volumes with his work, partly collected during his years in Parliament in Helsingfors -, Harry Walli, Håkon Holmberg and Sven-Erik Åström, residing and working in Helsingfors. All of these are now gone. Gone as well is the wholesaler in Skellefteå, Svante Lundell, who had made such a meaningful contribution to the exploration of family ties across the Gulf of Bothnia.

But today's researchers also demonstrate industry, talent and ingenuity. The work goes on. It is risky to list those who are still in the middle of their work. They are many. But let us select several names out of Leif Mether's new Genealogical Index. Ines Kass shows up in this catalogue with no less than 27 research reports. She has also been selected as a Fellow in the Genealogical Society of Finland. Among the diligent are also Leo Nyholm with 14 items, Clas-Eric Vester and Gunnar Nybond, each with 11 items. We could include many more.

Those resources which today are at genealogists' disposal are now quite different from those of the past. Perhaps most important is that we in Vasa have a modern, service-oriented district archives. New possibilities which the new data technology offers will quite certainly further facilitate research. Here education has a serious task. It is obviously necessary to already during the early school years awaken their forefathers' deeds.

The interaction and collaboration which today are established between district history and genealogy researchers have given the work new aspects. More and more we by our research wish to present men and women of past centuries in I their own milieu, as living individuals with both merits and faults. Suddenly we find that Bishop Terserus' original program which had as its aim a broad description of people in their surroundings moves toward its realization, something which of course Bishop Mennander and Rector Mathesius also strove to attain. Sven-Erik Åström has in his description of the origins of the Sursillians pointed out that the original research plan which aimed to combine the genealogical index with the "knowledge of the territory" win always be topical: "Genealogy can only bear ripe fruit when it is placed in its correct relationship and is paired with insights into and interest for the history and characteristics of the district".


Åström, Sven-Erik: Ur Genealogia Sursillianas tillkomsthistoria. Historiska och litteraturhistoriska studier 27-28, SLS 335, Helsingfors 1952, s. 382-424 (Out of the Creation History of Genealogia Sursilliana. Studies in History and Literary History 27-28, SLS 335, Helsingfors 1952, p. 382-424).
Durchman, Osmo: Familiengeschichtsforschung in Finland. -Kultur und Leben, Heft Nr. 1, Januar 1927, s. 25-37 (Family History Research in Finland. -Culture and Life, Vol. 1, January 1927, p. 25-27, written in German).
Mether, Leif: Sukuhakemisto - Släktregister - Family Index. Helsingfors 1992.

Published by Leading Star, January 1995

© Ragnar Mannil

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