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The Best Genealogical Book in 1992

Pertti Ebeling

The Genealogical Society of Finland, Society for Computerised Genealogy and Federation of Family Associations, three national societies for genealogy, decided to award a prize for the best genealogical book published in Finland during the years 1990 and 1991. The prize is called The Alcenius Prize after Elias Robert Alcenius, pioneer of Finnish genealogy and author of Genealogia Sursilliana. The aim of the competition is to improve the standard of books published on genealogy in Finland. The prize was given for the first time in March during the national genealogical symposium in Imatra.

The representatives of the above named genealogical societies had earlier collaborated in drawning up the guidelines according to which the prize and the honourable mentions should be awarded. Thus, a good genealogical book should include an introduction, a complete index of persons, references and necessary bibliographical data, evidence of research of high standard, and be well-written. On the other hand, a good genealogical book should not contain incorrect information or unbalanced biographies nor should the author give too much rein to imagination. The outward appearance, language (Finnish or Swedish) or structure (pedigree chart or ancestor table) should not have too great a significance for the evaluation.

Some forty volumes participated in the competition. The subject of the books varied from separate family histories to volumes dealing with many families from the same region. Some of the participating works consisted of photocopies of typed texts that were bound together in thin booklets. Others again contained many hundreds of printed pages filled with compact information about the family accompanied by neat photos portraying family members and everything bound in hard covers. It is a pleasure to see how much genealogy is currently being done in our country and that such a wealth of information is published with the result that other researchers can benefit. It is also important that the participants have sent the results of their investigations to the library of the Genealogical Society of Finland, although maybe the economic resources have not been sufficient to allow the books to be provided with an outward appearance that match the high standard of the investigation.

Many of the books taking part in the competition were the results of many years' indefatigable diligence. It was difficult to put the books in an order of excellence and this procedure is always somewhat arbitrary. The jury had not the possibility to check the results of the investigations against the original documents. Perhaps the greatest drawback in many otherwise high-quality family histories was an incomplete or totally missing index of persons. Family histories without an index lose much of their potential value for the genealogists, few of whom have the time or opportunity to become acquainted with books of that kind. Surprisingly many volumes were equipped with an index containing only direct descendants of the proband. The spouses and especially their parents were not mentioned in the index. There was also no message to the reader that the index only contained the direct descendants. This shortcoming is probably due to the fact that the researcher had used a computer in the storing of family data and the program was unable to enter other people into the index. The researcher had either not noticed this fault or not considered it to be of any significance.

The first prize was awarded to Ingeborg Dyhr Sylvin's book "Gamble Leutinanten och hans släkt". All members of the jury included this excellent book as one of their favourites. "Petter Hällströmin suku", "Miettisen suku I' and "Mellilän ja Metsämaan talonpoikaissuvut" were rewarded with honourable mentions. Petter Hällströmin suku contains many thousands of names with biographical information and a complete index of persons. Miettisen suku I deals with a family history from Eastern Finland. Mellilän ja Metsämaan talonpoikaissuvut is a comprehensive work giving information about peasant families from Mellilä and Metsämaa.

Published by Sukutieto, 1992, Special issue for Family Fair in Turku, Finland

© Pertti Ebeling

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