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Finnish Genealogical Research - Methods and Procedures

Harry Walli

In order to understand the methods and procedures of genealogical research in Finland, it is necessary to know the origin and amount of the series of records referring to this. A knowledge of the settlement and the history of the country is also necessary. Therefore, I would like to begin my lecture by turning to these problems with a short report.

The Finns Settle in the Country

From the original homeland of the Finnish-Ugric tribes, from the region between the Moscow of today and the Ural mountains, the Finns arrived at the southern shores of the Gulf of Finland already centuries prior to our era. From the time of the birth of Christ to about 800 A.D. single persons first, then larger groups crossed the gulf and settled in the new country, with the first existing settlements located in the southwestern corner of Finland. Gradually, they extended eastward and to the North. At about the year 1550, when the registers of the population begin, only the interior of the country was not settled. But between 800 and 1000 A.D. the Swedes also settied in the country. They lived at first on the Åland Islands, later in the coastal areas where they are still living today.

In the West the farmers built permanent dwellings. In the interior, in the Savo region, the farmers cleared the woods by fire in order to make the soil arable, and the adult brothers and sons often went on, to the North and the East and continuously founded new settlements. In Karjala the farmers built their houses on top of the hills and tilled the low plains. Within these houses they lived through many generations as one great family, each individual family group in one section of the great undivided room.


Soon after the year 1000 A.D. the neighbours in the West as well as in the East tried to gain influence in Finland - the demand for furs was quite high at that time. The Swedes came into Southwestern Finland, since about 1150 A.D., baptized the people to the Roman Catholic faith, built churches, sent priests and bailiffs, founded towns and erected castles; in Turku, Hämeenlinna and Viipuri at the end of the 13th century, and Olavinlinna since 1475. Swedish law came into force in Finland in 1350 A.D. and in 1362 Finland became an equal part of Sweden. Iike the Swedes, the Finns participated in the election of the kings, in the administration and in the parliament.

In the East the Russians, mainly from Novgorod, invaded Karjala and began to baptize the Finns into the Greek Catholic faith. Feuds of long standing and real wars were fought. With the peace treaty of 1617 Sweden-Finland obtained its largest expansion eastward when the Käkisalmi region and Ingermanland were added to the kingdom. Ingermanland was mostly settled by way of the Savo region. Trouble began at the end of the 17th century. During the years 1695 to 1697 the country was ravaged by famine and epidemics and enormous numbers of the male population were deported as soldiers into foreign countries. One quarter of the population thus perished and vast parts of the country became barren. Russia occupied the whole country in 1715. The "iso viha" (great non-peace) began and lasted till the peace treaty of 1721. Great numbers of the people fled to Sweden. The administration ceased to function - even parish registers were not kept, except in some instances. The invaders found special pleasure in burning parish records. Therefore, only a few books have been preserved from early times.

Farmers, too, especially from the Pohjanmaa region, moved into Sweden. Often new farmers from the interior came to occupy the deserted farms. If the previous owners returned, they often did not succeed in regaining their farms. Due to this, genealogical problems resulted which are rarely solved.

With the peace treaty of 1721 the Isthmus of Karelia with the castle and city of Viipuri, the Käkisalmi region and Ingermaniand were ceded to Russia. The border, in general, was like that of 1947. The Lutheran Church and the keeping of parish registers remained as before, but the Greek Catholic Church slowly gained influence. In the course of time the system of law and administration changed considerably. Twenty years later Russia again occupied Finland and with the peace treaty of 1743 more territories had to be surrendered. Finally in 1809 all of Finland became separated from Sweden and in personal union was incorporated into Russia as an autonomous grand-duchy. The parts of Finland which had been ceded to Russia with the peace treaties of 1721 and 1743 were, in 1812, reunited with Finland.

The inherent laws and the inherent administration were kept intact and Finland got a diet of its own. Through own deputation Finland submitted affairs and concerns to the Czar, and a senate was installed as the supreme administrative board. The Russian subjects did not enjoy civic rights in Finland, but at the beginning of the 20th century many foreign elements infiltrated.

Finland became independent on December 6, 1917, and its borders were determined by the peace treaty of 1920. As a result of World War II, Finland once again had to cede the Karelian Isthmus with adjoining regions to Russia. The entire population of the surrendered territory, approximately 500,000 people, settled in the remaining part of the country. It was not possible to save all archive records nor all parish registers. The remaining records of that territory are kept in the Provincial Archives in Mikkeli.

Emigration from Finland to America

The first Finnish immigrants came to America as early as 1638 to settle in Delaware. During the following period more Finnish people settled in the United States, although there were never any large numbers. The larger emigration did not start until the middle of the 19th century. The initiatory factor was the famine in Finland. Furthermore, a new stream of immigrants came during the beginning of 1900 due to unlawful compulsory military service. During the period 1893-1900 approximately 50,000 Finnish people emigrated to America, while during the decade covering 1901-1910 more than 160,000 persons emigrated. In the following decade the number of persons decreased to approximately 70,000.

The settlers of the 19th century were mostly of the rural population. Members of the urban population did not emigrate until the 20th century. Of course, these emigrants came from all areas of Finland, but the main group came from Pohjanmaa area and northern Finland.

The Search for Relatives in Finland

The immigrants of the last century were the grandfathers or even the great-grandfathers of the present-day adult descendants. This third or fourth generation seldom knows anything about their forebears; seldom does one know the exact birth date and birthplace. If information concerning this data cannot be gained from documents in America, it is often very difficult to come into contact with relatives in Finland.

The immigrants often did not keep their surnames in the original form. A Finnish Jussi Mäki became John Hill, a Matti Pitkänen became Mathias Longman or an Antti Mätässaari became Andreas Mathis. The names were either translated into English or were changed into a more pronounceable form.

When doing research in Finland information concerning smallest details could be of decisive importance. Here are some exampies:

  1. A lady from the United States said that the only thing she knew about her grandfather was his first name, Matti, and that he often told about his red house (birthplace) which stood near a lovely lake. There are thousands of red houses standing near lovely lakes in Finland. But she also remembered that her father spoke of a cousin who was visiting in San Francisco at that time and that he was a doctor of chemistry living in the city of Oulu in Finland. The chemist was found and through him the red house.
  2. A gentleman wrote that he did not know anything about his grandmother, until a card written to her was found accidentally. The sender, whose name was mentioned, sent regards from mutual relatives. Through the postal stamp on the card the sender was found and the problem solved.
  3. A correspondant wrote that his father told him about an uncle and aunt who were twins and that they had had twins themselves just as he did. Their home town was not known, but the family was found through the twins catalogue.

If the name and date of birth are known, the birth place can be found through the help of the index of the Kansaneläkelaitos (peoples insurance institution). all people living in Finland in 1939, and who were at least 18 years old, are included in this index file.

If the name and birth date are known it is theoretically possible to find the place of birth and the parents of the child. If the time of birth lies before 1850, the copies of the birth and baptismal registers at the Genealogical Society of Finland would be of help. (These are kept in the National Archives in Helsinki and on microfilm in the archives at Salt Lake City.) There are more than 600 parishes in Finland and therefore it takes a considerable amount of time to look through all the registers. The microfilms in the archives at SLC covering the period from the beginning of church records up to1850-1860 can be used, but it takes even more time to evaluate the microfilms. Information requests concerning later years must be sent to the parishes. I should also mention that during recent times many parish registers have been lost..

Research on Names

The tribes which were living in the Savo and Karjala areas have always used the inherited family names, some of which go back as far as pagan times. These names are divided into three main groups:

  1. The short names, which are often names of animals such as Kurki (crane), Kontio (bear), Kukko (rooster), Orava (squirrel) and Tikka (woodpecker).
  2. Family names were formed from these short names, from old or new first names and adjectives and from the diminutive ending "-nen". Here are some of the results: Kukkonen, Oravainen, Tikkanen, coming from the names just mentioned; or Hirvonen, Itkonen, Kekkonen, from old first names, and then adjectives Pitkänen (pitkä=long), Laihanen (laiha=thin).
  3. Finally there are the names derived from geographicai designations with the suffix "-lainen" or "-iäinen": Savo-lainen, Hämä-lainen.

In the year 1571 approximately 600 different Finnish family names were mentioned in the Savo area, but in 1890 there were approximately 2,500.

The women kept their maiden name their whole life, although in the feminine form with the ending "-tar" or "-tär"; Kukotar, Oravatar, Pitkätär, Savotar. A patronymic was seldom used.

Now one would believe that it would be rather easy to find the rejatives of Matti Korhonen who emigrated to the United States. But unfortunately the situation is very different. These names are very old and since they are inherited, the number of the bearers of these have grown considerably through the ages. In 1890 over 3,000 persons bearing the name Korhonen lived in the Savo area. There are just as many Laitinen, 2,000 Miettinen, Väisänen and Koponen, but even 3,500 Hämäläinen. In the recent telephone directory for Helsinki there are approximately 300 Hänninen, just as many Koponen, 500 Pitkänen and 700 Korhonen. During olden times the choice in first names was very small, so 100 years ago there were hundreds of Matti Pitkänen, Heikki Pitkänen, Antti Pitkänen and Jussi Pitkänen. If many families by the name of Pitkänen lived in one village, it was probable that they were all related to one another, but that does not mean that they are related with the Pitkänen families living in other areas, because there were many ancestors who used this name.

I would like to mention in this connection the large group of those Finnish names which remind us of the older names, but have only been taken during the last decades. The family name law of 1920 demands that everyone should have an inheritable surname. Partially because of this law and partially through other reasons new names were taken en masse, which designated no relationship whatsoever, and even brothers took different names. Here are some of these names: Mäki (hill) - Mäkinen; Aalto (wave) - Aaltonen; Saari (island) - Saarinen. I would also mention that because of nationalistic reasons Finnish names were taken instead of foreign or Swedish names.

In the Southern and Western areas of the country, the family names were not kept - not even by the burghers. The peasants only used a first name and a patronymic, and the burghers did the same until the late 18th century. If the burgher owned a house or a peasant a farm, its name was often used as the family name. If there was a change in property, the new name was used. Many of these farm and house names are singular or have only been used rarely. If someone has called himself after such a farm or house name, you will be able to find his native town or area. There are indexes of the farm names of several areas.

When the son of a farmer or a burgher started school and did not have a family name he was given one. The minister and teachers were quite inventive. The name of the home town was translated into Latin or Greek, as for example Arctopolitanus of Björneborg (Bear City), Cygneus of Joutseno (joutsen= cygnus= swan), Europaeus of Äyräpää; or from names of farms such as Huidander or Huiderus of Huida, Calonius of Kallo, Aeimelaeus of Äimä. Sometimes the old Finnish name was translated into Latin, Greek or Hebrew: Alopaeus of Kettunen (kettu = fox = alopeks), Ursinus of Karhu (karhu - bear - ursus), Alcenius of Hirvi (hirvi -stag - alces). Here is a further example of a translation to Swedish Latin: The farm was situated near the village of Seinäjoki - seinä (wall) in Swedish "wägg", joki (stream) - "älv" + " us" resuits in Wegelius.

The priests kept the name endings "us" and "ander", the burghers and the military used the names without these suffixes. The origin of these names and therefore the first persons bearing them can often be found.

But the common Swedish surnames such as Grönholm, Holmström, Lindquist do not present any hints. Names such as these were often taken at the beginning of the 19th century by artisans.

Short names, often with only one syllable, such as Granat, Sabel, Tiger, Tapper or Spjut are the names of soldiers. This includes such fancy names as Tigerhjärta, Silverklot and Steckelborg. At first these names were not inheritable. A soldier had a number as well as a name which belonged together, therefore the soldier Nr. 18 was always called Stolt.

I would like to mention the fact, that the nobility in Finland did not have family names in olden times. The noblemen were called by their first names and a patronymic and often the name of one of their estates was added, as for exampie, Sigfrid Henriksson of Koskipää. The surnames of the nobility did not become permanent until the establishment of the Riddarhuset [the House of Nobility] in Stockholm in 1626. The old families were often named after their ancient coats of arms. Here are some examples for Finland: Horn, Kurck (crane), Sporre (spur), Hästesko (horseshoe), Jägerhorn and Sabelstjerna.

In conclusion we can state as the result of name research we have found that:

  1. The ancient family names from the Savo and Karjala area seldom help to find the person you are looking for but they do indicate the area in which the person should be looked for;
  2. The added farm and house names of the farmers and burghers are often decisive in finding the place of birth;
  3. Names styled in Latin and Greek usually show a connection with a distinct family;
  4. The names of soldiers and the Finnish and Swedish names taken up in recent times seldom are of help in finding relatives.


Before turning to the church records, it is necessary to first determine whether or not something has already been published or searched out about the family in question. In 1943 the Genealogical Society of Finland issued a repertory which lists the genealogical publications up to that date as long as they contain at least three generations, as well as the manuscripts on family history. The surnames mentioned in these publications are also listed. Later published books are listed in the yearbooks of the Society. Notice should also be taken that all old cities and towns in Finland and a great number of communities have published their histories. They often comprise very exact informaton about the people, officials, priests, farms and estates. Diligent genealogists, too, have compiled voluminous family histories, which comprise the complete population of one or several communities. Such studies are especially available on the population of Pohjanamaa, Stakunta, and the Åland Islands.

Now let us presume that the name, the place and date of birth are known, but that otherwise nothing is known about the family in question, and let us now begin to search the parish registers.

The Church Archives

In 1628 A.D., Bishop Rothovius decreed that registers of those who had been baptized, married or died should be established in all parishes. The oldest registers of this kind, the so-called historiakirjat [History books] begin in 1648 (Teisko). In 1665, Bishop Gezelius decreed that knowledge of the catechism and in reading, later also the communion of every member of the parish should be listed in a book. The oldest of these books, the communion books, date from 1667 (15 parishes). Gradually the date of birth and death, later also the place of birth, were entered in the registers. Still later entries were made about persons who moved into or out of the area, vaccinations and crimes. In 1554 the country was divided into two dioceses, with the seats in Turku and Viipuri, later Porvoo, respectively, (today there are 1l). In the last named diocese, parish registers were not established until 1686 A.D., but a special register was kept there in which the children were listed until their first communion. These registers, the so-calied lastenkirjat (childrens books) are no longer in use since 1921. Both dioceses kept special registers about the persons without property and the servants, as well as about persons who moved into or out of the area. The church archives aiso have financial records of the Church. There, one will find entries on revenue gained from baptisms, marriages and burials. These books are often much older than the real parish registers. The oldest one dates from the years 1469-1524 (Kalliala). The parish registers of the Greek Catholic parishes do not begin until toward the end of the 18th century, and those of various dissenting sects in 1889. Persons who seceded from the Church are listed in the civil registers since 1917.

Before beginning research in a church archive, it is necessary to ascertain what kind of records are still available and where to find them. It has been mentioned already that during the iso viha (great non-peace) 1715-1721 a great number of parish registers were lost. During the last war much material was also destroyed. Too, fires in parishes or churches where the material was kept have caused much destruction. Today the National Archives in Helsinki have lists of all available material. With copies of the historiakirjat - up to 1850 - which have been prepared by the Genealogicai Society of Finland, and in part also the statements of accounts of all parishes in Finland. The microfilms of the church archives - up to 1860 - which were made on behalf of the Genealogicai Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are available here. The material on parish registers needed for research purposes may be examined at the National Archives in Helsinki.

However, before looking into the material, the researcher must first become acquainted with the history of the parish in question. This I would like to illustrate with an example. The farm Kero belongs today to the Lavia parish - the registers of this parish do not begin until 1823. But from the history of this parish follows that the Lavia parish was organized from several villages of the Suodenniemi parish. The historical books of Suodenniemi begin in 1794, the year when Suodenniemi was organized from a part of Mouhijärvi. Thus, we will find the farmers on Kero in Suodenniemi and finally in Mouhijärvi. Also, it was not rare that a village or a group of villages were transferred from one parish into another.

The old parish registers are written in Swedish. They used the so-called German or Gothic script which today is foreign to most peopie. Before being able to read these books, one has to know this script - good explanatory tables are available. Latin words also appear in these books and also countless abbreviations. Also the geography of the village and the surrounding parishes must be known. Quite often the names of the places to which a person moved or from where he came are entered in an abbreviated form, especially long names. You have ta know that there is a place "Kankaanpää" in the vicinity, otherwise you would not understand the entry "Kpää", or Gkby as Gamlakarleby, Pöre as Pedersöre, etc. Furthermore, it is necessary to know the old names of the parishes: if somebody moved to Nyby, he probably went to the Orimattila of today, or if he came from Östermyra, he came from the Seinäjoki of today. It isn't too easy to recognize that when the parish register talks of "Hvbfd" it means "Hvittisbofjärd", and that this parish today is called Ahlainen.

Now, after all these difficulties have been mastered, we can turn to the communion registers - or the corresponding microfilms. Generally, we will be able to trace the ancestors of the "Proband" back into the first volume. The communion registers in the large parishes are quite heavy folio volumes. Although you know on which farm or in which house your man lived, you must nevertheless determine and find the village or the borough. The communion registers are usually put together geographically, and to know the geography of the parish will be helpful. After a period of 5 to 10 years new communion registers were started, and if you want to follow a person from book to book, it may be that the date of birth changes. In the older volumes this is due to the annual interrogations on which occasion often inquiries about the age of those present were made. In doing so the date of birth was sometimes changed. If possibie, all dates should be checked in the baptism, marriage and death registers. The dates in these registers should be considered correct.

If a person died or moved from the farm or the house, their name often was crossed out. Mysterious symbols next to the name indicate whether the person in question had moved to another farm or into another parish. Each minister had his own system of symbols, but a bit of studying will expiain the meaning of the symbols.

Often it may happen that the established ancestor is not the son of the previously mentioned owner of the farm or house. The more recent registers, perhaps from the end of the 18th century on, have often a column for the entry of the place of birth. In case of a new owner, date and place of birth may probably be given, but when you are looking for this information in the baptism registers, you will not find it. It is not unusual that, at this point, research is discontinued. The explanation is found in various factors: If a person moved from one parish into another, he received a note from the minister with the data which was necessary for the entry in the new book. However, the name of the place of birth often is missing and, therefore, the name of the parish where the note was issued was entered in the column for the place of birth. In such a case, you must find in the register of communions when the person in question came into the parish. Then you must find in the communion register of that period the parish which is shown as place of birth. If there were children before the change of dwelling, a search in the baptism register might help to find the house and village. Otherwise, you must scarch page by page.

If the parents cannot be found in the baptism register, you should search for the wedding in the marriage register. It often happens that the marriage is not listed in the record of the parish of the husband because the marriage is usually listed in the register of the parish in which the bride lived. Then it is advisable to search for this entry in the neighbouring parishes or in parishes where a direct way leads to the husband's parish. If there is a town in the vicinity, you should search all parishes which surround the town in a wide circle.

However, you may not always succeed in locating the whereabouts of the husband or wife with this system. It would then be advisable to list the godparents of the children out of the baptismal register in order to establish a relationship to them. It has been and still is customary to invite relatives as godparents.

To progress further, you must turn to the registers of court decisions and tax-lists.

Register of Court Decisions

Although Swedish law had already been introduced in Finland in the middle of the 14th century, comparatively few court decisions have been preserved prior to 1600. Only the records concerning chiefly possessions of the church, from 1229 to 1515, have been compiled in the published book Turun Tuomiokirkon musta kirja (The black book of the Turku Cathedral). Excerpts from the registers of court decisions concerning fines are contained in the statements of accounts of the bailiffs from the middle of the 16th century.

The country was subdivided into many court districts (today 73), and court proceedings which could last several days usually were held twice a year in each district. From these country courts (kihlakunnanoikeus), people could turn to the High State Court (laamanninoikeus, only until 1862) and from there to the hovioikeus and finally to the sovereign. The lowest court in the towns was the Court of Jurors (kämnerinoikeus). In addition there were some special courts such as the court for the Excises and the Customs or Tarriff court which had to decide minor cases. The next stage was the City Hall Court (raastuvanoikeus). This court dealt with the more important cases, among others criminal cases. From the City Hall Court one could turn to the Supreme Court of Justice and finally to the sovereign. Originally the magistrate was of great importance, but in time, however, the duties became limited.

In 1602 the lower courts were bound to submit an annual copy of the register of court decisions to the Supreme Court of Justice. In the beginning, the competent Supreme Court of Justice for Finland was the Svea Supreme Court of Justice in Stockholm. From 1632 on, the copies had to be sent to the Supreme Court in Turku, which was organized in that year. Quite early, the judges authorized the exclusion of minor court decisions and entries concerning inheritance inventories, etc., from these extract copies. The original copies remained with the judges, but then they gradually found their way into archives. The inheritance inventories and mortgage matters have been combined in separate series. Today, there are four Supreme Courts of Justice in Finland. Considerable parts of the large and extremely valuable number of court decision registers, and also the entire archives of the Supreme Court of Justice in Turku, were destroyed by fire in 1827. The preserved volumes of the extract copies are kept in the National Archives Helsinki, with the original copies preserved in the respective provincial archives. The extract copies of court decisions of the Swedish period from the Käkisalmi region, Ingermaniand and Narva areas which were ceded to Russia already in 1721 - are also deposited in Helsinki.

The contents of these court decisions are of utmost importance to the genealogist. In connection with court proceedings of the most diverse kind, relationships have been established - often going back for generations. Sometimes it is stated where the relatives lived, and exact information is given about the descendants. Especially worth mentioning are the rules of the law which regulated the sale of inherited real estate. If a person desired to sell inherited real estate, he had to offer it to his relatives for redemption in three sessions of the county court. Only after none of them had applied for it, was he permitted to sell the real estate or farm to a stranger. On such an occasion the relatives were of course often enumerated, and in addition it was stated from where the buyer came. If there are no entries of this kind, you may conclude that the farm or house went to the next heir.

Here are some examples from the court decision registers:

Immediately after the great iso viha a new farmer moved into a farm. He had a common surname. The parish registers did not provide any clues as to where he came from. The godparents, too, were not relatives. But 20 years later a process was entered into the court decision registers whereby he demanded compensation from his brother for work performed in times long past. The parentage of the brother was known, and thus the problem was solved.

A well-to-do citizen lived in the town of Pietarsaari in the early 1700s - he had the insignificant name Mathias Nyman (=Newman), with several outstanding personalities descending from him. His origin was unknown for a long time until he was found mentioned in a court decision in a neighboring parish as the co-heir and son of a well-known farmer.

It is extremely time consuming to go through these court decision registers - but it is very interesting, even exciting. You should not forget to also note such genealogical entries which mention interesting facts, but momentarily do not refer to the problem in question - you may not know beforehand whether or not just this one note could be of decisive importance.

There are a number of other records at the disposal of the genealogist. With good luck such records could trace a pedigree to the middle of the 16th century.

Tax Lists

In Finland, statements of accounts of the bailiffs are preserved from as far back as the year 1538. During the years 1539-1540 all taxable residents of the whole - at that time - occupied country were registered. Persons who had the right to use the uninhabited areas of the country were included in these registers. In 1571 the goods and chattels of solvent inhabitants were recorded. These registers usually include only the taxable people.

From the year 1630 on, various kinds of registers of persons are available - unfortunately not in unbroken succession. At first the population between 13 and 63 years were listed, but later the age of 13 was increased to 15 years. These registers do not show the nobility with their servants, nor military personnel in the service. These lists provided the basis for the statements of accounts of the bailiffs. In the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century they often omitted the persons who were not able to pay taxes. Therefore, a farm could have been listed as uninhabited although it was not deserted - for instance a widow with her under age son could be living there. In more recent registers, perhaps since the middle of the 18th century, the insolvent persons were listed with appropriate remarks.

All registers of this kind concerning the areas of Häme, Satakunta, the southern and middle part of Pohjanmaa and also small parts of Varsinais-Suomi and Uusimaa have been combined in a general register. Here, you will be able to take in at a glance the inhabitants of each farm for a period of 10 years. The register is being extended continuously.

These statements of accounts contain verifications of the most diverse kind. For instance, if a parish register does not have marriage registers, it would be good to know that, beginning in 1733, for about 20 years, lists of banns of engaged couples can be found in the bailiff's books containing the statements of accounts.

By means of these tax lists it is often possible to compile genealogicai tables. For example:

1725 Farm Kero: Landlord, Erik Mattson
Wife, Klara Simonsdotter
Son, Matts Eriksson
Wife, Sara Andersdotter
1726 Farm Kero: Landlord, Matts Eriksson
Wife, Sara Andersdotter
Mother Klara Simonsdotter, widow

These entries show clearly that the landlord, Erik Mattson, died between the tabulation of the lists for 1725 and 1726, that his wife, who survived him, was called Klara Simonsdotter, that he had a son Matts, who inherited the farm from his father, and that the daughter-in-law was called Sara Andersdotter. If the wife of the son would have been called Sara Eriksdotter, there would have been the possibility of another interpretation: Sara Eriksdotter would be a daughter of Erik Mattson and Matts Eriksson his son-in-law who, for tax purposes, had the place of a son at the farm. Therefore, it is necessary to take great caution in drawing conclusions.

Military Registers

In order to enlist the necessary number of soldiers, conscriptions were made as early as about 1550. The oldest registers of that kind for Finland date from the early 160Os. They are mainly kept in the War Archives in Stockholm. These registers comprise the entire male population if the persons were at least 15 years old. Often the age is given. If several men from the same farm were listed, their relationship to each other is stated. However, this data may be deliberately false - the man wanted to make himself younger or older in order to evade the military service.

A number of rolls of various regiments are on file in the National Archives in Helsinki, but the main inventories of this kind are to be found in the Swedish War Archives. Occasionally there are surprising documents of this kind in Helsinki; there is for instance a parish register for the years from 1742 to 1808 for the Queen Dowager's Own Regiment.

Topographic Records

Many kinds of records which refer to a village have been filed in their own series according to parishes. Here records of an estate or a farm may have been compiled. Often it may prove quite productive to make use of these series.

Matriculation, Trade Guild and Occupational Records

The student lists of universities and schools often furnish valuable information about the parentage and the native area of the students. Lists of the Turku University students have been published, as well as the matriculation records of most older schools.

Besides these we have lists of the members of various trade guilds and corporations. Also worth mentioning are the lists made by Bishop Colliander who has researched the descendants of all ministers who were living in Finland after 1800 up to about 1917. The first part from A to including E has been published. The rest is on file as a manuscript in the National Archives.

Before coming to the conclusion of my presentation, I must mention the foundation of genealogy in Finland, the Genealogia Sursilliana. In the early 1500s there lived in Sweden in the Ångermanland region a bailiff by the name of Erik. He supplied the army with herrings which had been pickled in the way customary to Ångermaniand. They, however, were not to the taste of the soldiers from other regions and, therefore, he was called Erik Sursill (=sour herring). He had two sons and three daughters. The daughters, as well as all seven daughters of one of the sons were married into the Pohjanmaa region in Finland, mainly to ministers. They again had a great number of descendants and, already in the middle of the 1600s, most ministers and many officials in Pohjanmaa had become related to each other. Quite early they began to record the descendants, and in 1850 a printed but incomplete list of the posterity had been published - nevertheless the book registers more than 500 families. A new, more complete edition is now being printed.

In Finland much material is available to the genealogist. It is not possible to exhaust the sources within the framework of this lecture. However, I have explained the most important sources and their origin in order to build a presentation of the methods and procedures for research in Finland. Much could still be added, but I hope that you will have obtained a picture of the possibilities and methods for research in the Finland of today.

Thank you very much.

A lecture given at the World Conference on Records and Genealogical Seminar. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, 5-8 August 1969. The text is slightly changed in details and modified to meet modern requirements.

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