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.