Starting Genealogical Research in Finland

Genealogical research starts in stages and this information page presents them in ten tips. The tips give answers on how to start your own genealogical research all the way from how to determine your primary sources to actually starting on research. Primary sources mean a certain ancestor's detailed information about their name, date of birth, date of marriage or death and place of residence. Usually the information should be over 100 years old. The end of this page gives more detailed information about education, advice, sources and genealogy guides.

Information pages for starting genealogy:

Ten tips for starting genealogical research

1. Interview your relatives who remember information about the family members and its history - but always be critical of oral history.

2. Search your home or ask from your parents or other relatives for official documents like estate inventories, extracts from the population registry or even family Bibles that might have information on family members and their personal information written in them.

3. Use the library, for example Finna or the reference library of the Society, to see if a genealogy book has already been published on your family. Plenty of genealogical information can also be found online from various platforms so just doing a Google search can be used for help.

4. Familiarize yourself with the methods, principles and primary sources through guides and the internet and take part in genealogy classes. Several different entities arrange classes and a lot of training is also available online. The Genealogical Society of Finland has a wide range of training and counseling services.

5. Primary genealogical sources have been digitized comprehensively and, for example, you can browse over 100 year old church records in the National Archives of Finland's Astia-database and in the Digital Archive of the Finland's Family History Association. Also familiarize yourself with the Society's online services such as the HisKi-database which is one of the main tools for researching church records.

6. If you cannot access over 100 year old church records, order an extract from the population registry or from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, the Orthodox Church or the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

7. Before you start saving or publishing genealogical information in a genealogy program or service, familiarize yourself with regulations and guidelines for handling personal data. This information is easily available in the data protection page of the Genealogical Society of Finland.

8. Join online discussion groups on genealogy, for example the Genealogical Society of Finland's discussion group on Facebook. There you can ask for advice and tips and get help when you run into a problem. Start following the Society on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Facebook for example has numerous groups for thematic and regional genealogy research.

9. Become a member of the Genealogical Society of Finland by filling out the membership form and also join a local genealogy society or group near you. This is how you can join the community of genealogists and be introduced to its internal messaging. As a member of the Society you will for example receive Jalmari, a digital magazine on current affairs, into your inbox once a month.

10. Go on a journey into your family's history and the stories of your ancestors. Build your family tree bit by bit and let genealogy take you for a ride. You will get an interesting hobby that will take you on a journey of self-discovery.

Education and advice

Various different educational services, from the very basics to themed special courses, are available for genealogy enthusiasts. It is advisable that the beginner genealogist takes the basic course on genealogy where you are taught the most important sources and research principles of genealogy. In addition to The Genealogical Society of Finland, other local genealogy groups arrange this type of educational events. Basic courses are offered by, for example, civic and adult education centers and summer university programs.

The Genealogical Society of Finland also offers advice on research, information privacy and genetic genealogy. When starting genealogy or when you run into a problem you can also get help from a professional genealogist. The Society keeps a list of professional genealogists on their web site.

Online family information

Results of genealogical research are published widely on the web sites of individual genealogists and genealogical societies as well as through social networking services and genealogy platforms. This information is best accessed through online search engines, such as Google, and by searching a person's name and surname and using a genealogy related term in the search, such as "genealogy".

The most popular platforms for online genealogy are, FamilySearch, Geni and MyHeritage. Some of these web services are free for users and some require a paid subscription to get access to their information. When searching for online genealogical information, you should be critical of the information - especially in cases where no sources are cited.

Printed and un-printed sources

The main index of printed genealogy material is Leif Mather's Family Index (1992) which contains all genealogy publications published in Finland that contain at least three consecutive generations bearing the same surname. The Family Index reaches up to the year 1991, after which printed sources can be tracked using the library database of the The Genealogical Society of Finland.

However, not all publications end up in the Society's library so it is advised to also use the Finna search service which contains material from Finnish archives, libraries, museum collections and digitized sources. Un-printed genealogy sources - that is primary sources stored in archives - are more thoroughly presented on our own information page dealing with the primary sources of genealogy.

The Genealogical Society of Finland's publications such as the Genos and the Annals, have over a hundred years published plenty of genealogy results, which one should become acquainted with. All the Society's publications can be read through the SukuHaku, which, as a membership service, requires signing into. Today, also family societies and genealogical groups publish their own research and post about families on their websites.