Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is the availability to chuch records?

The Finnish source situation (in Finland) is such that we have microfiches for practically all parishes up to 1900 at National archive (in Helsinki) and each regional archive has records for its area. The limit year varies a bit according to the way the books were kept. Only material older than 100 years is openly available. Microfilms can also be used at some libraries, usually from the surrounding area.

"Official" digitization of parish records (at http://digi.narc.fi/digi/?lang=en_US ) ends at years around 1860 (? don't use the site that much). Voluntary digitation effort has for some parishes records up to 1911, but records that are 100-125 years old require membership in the association. Others (125+) are free for all with no registration.

How about the newer records that are needed for searching for descendants? Quite recently the governing body of ev. luth. parishes made a decision that 0-100 years old church books still at the parishes are NOT to be viewed by genealogists. This categorical guidance means that in order for you to get an answer to your question, there are 2 ways to go
  1. Possibly there are microfiches on the books in the regional archive. In order to use those one needs to apply for permission. This practise is new and I have no experience in it.
  2. As before it is possible to ask for the parish to provide the answers. For those that are serious about research quality this is not a satisfactory option, but if you are willing to wait for a while and pay something, you can send a query to the parish via snail mail. List of addresses can be found at the evl.fi-pages. If you get a reply that indicates that the family or its members have moved on a new query to that parish will be necessary.
Finns got freedom of religion at the beginning of the 1920's and after that it is also possible that the information is at the civil regirstry rather than a parish.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is HisKi?

Got a good comment to my post How do I use HisKi? : WHAT is HisKi?

HisKi is an ongoing project to index "History books" of Finnish Ev. Luth. parishes. "History books" is a common name for the lists of baptisms, marriages and burials that parishes kept from late 1600's onwards. Some parishes have records from 1600's but most start around 1730.

The history books were transcribed in 1900's up to year 1860 and the HisKi index is mainly based on those transcriptions, being then a copy of a copy. For later years indexers have worked from original records and some have used them also for the earlier years.

Most people find Hiski very easy to use and are tempted to use it exclusively. This is not a recommended way to go, you should use rippikirja's as well. I'll write a separate post about those soon (as I now have an actual reader).

It is also a good idea to look at the original records of "History books". HisKi is an index and transcribers cane have made mistakes. And they have left some of the information out, especially godparents listed in baptisms can give useful information on the social relationships and can help with brickwalls.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What is loinen?

Loinen can be translated as parasite but only in the sense that these people did not have their "own" place to live. They were probably at the bottom of the economical status order, but you shouldn't look at it as a sign of disapproval. Just a classification.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How can siblings have different family names?

Between 1880's-1920's family names in western Finland became more common among general population. (People with education and trade people in towns had family names already in 1600's.) During this period the adoption of Finnish names (as opposed to the Swedish and Latin ones used previously) started as well.

As the name conventions were loose, people chose names without rules or traditions. Personally I find it waste of time to wonder why
a) children chose different name than parents
b) siblings chose different names
c) a particular name was chosen
d) people would change names several times

because all that just happened.

(In Eastern Finland common people have had family names 1500's which is an uncommonly long time in European context.)

You can read more at http://www.genealogia.fi/emi/art/article216e.htm

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Where to post a query?

A general hint for discussion forums is to
a) Check the amount of activity. Low activity means that there is less chance to get a reply.
b) Check the quality of replies.

On the forums relating to Finnish genealogy in English there are usually few people answering and more asking questions. If the previous queries are unanswered or answered poorly, then you might want to try some place else.

Alternatives I am aware of:
General tips to making genealogy queries apply. Give enough information, state what you are looking for or what is the problem you have. Personally I take issue with people who post queries without checking any information about Finnish genealogy before hand. They either

a) do not have enough information to "jump the pond", in which case the only thing to say is: you need more information, go and try to find it
b) do have enough information but do not explain why they are not proceeding with the research.

If you are simply looking for someone to do your genealogy for you, there are professionals for that. More on finding them later.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where in Finland is...?

You can use Google maps if you like. But sometimes a better option is the official map site: Kansalaisen karttapaikka. It provides an address search but the the more useful option is place name search.

Do not worry about the municipality field unless you are already sure you have the right value for it. Enter the name you are searching to the search field. To search for places with the beginning of the name only, cut with *.

In the result list each row ends with the type of place: House, swamp, island, forest, elevation etc. Before that you can see the municipality the place is in. Press control down and select all that look promising and click "Show selected on the map".

Please note that farms/houses today are not necessarily in the same place as the farm/house with the same name ~100 years ago.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Did the only eat potatoes?

"Did I tell you that, in response to my comment that the family was land wealthy, Kathy replied, "Mummu said all they ate was potatoes some days"?"

- Finland was a poor country until WWII. Our last real famine was as recently as 1866-67.
- Farmers, of course, ate what they produced. The traditional Finnish food has been very plain and monotonous. What my grandmother (who grew up at a fairly prosperous farm) describes being the diet during her youth, doesn't seem very appealing to me. Since I have grown up eating lasagna, pizza...

So Kathy's "mummu" quite possible ate mostly potatoes at her home in Finland, as did many other people as well. And after coming to America and experiencing a greater variety of food stuffs, her opinion of the old days could very well have been coloured as not-very-rosy.