Whether you want to extend your Finnish ancestry or just want to learn more details about the lives of ancestors whose names you already have, our experts can help!
Tracing Finnish Ancestry
Like most other European countries, genealogical research in Finland hinges on first knowing where, exactly, your ancestors might have lived. Because there are not extensive national indexes to records, you’ll need to search records for that location specifically, which means you’ll first need to search more recent records to find one that lists their town/city of origin (unless you already know it – then you’re way ahead already!). Keep in mind that due to changes of power and leadership, boundaries and jurisdictions, you’ll also want to research a little bit about the history of each location in order to make sure you’re looking for records in the correct place for the time period your ancestor(s) lived there. The modern-day name of a town or city might be different than what it formerly was, or the jurisdictional boundaries might have changed over time, and that will affect your research strategy.
Using Records to Extend Finnish Ancestry
Church records are one of the main sources for finding information about Finnish ancestry. By royal decree, the Lutheran church began keeping records of all people in 1686. However, some parishes had already been keeping them earlier, and it took many years for all parishes to consistently maintain the practice, so depending on where your ancestors lived you may find records going back earlier than 1686, or you may find that your ancestors’ parish didn’t begin until after 1700.
The information contained in these church records gradually increased over time, with the earliest records including a lot less than more recent ones. In addition to the typical records of birth/baptism, marriage, and death/burial, the church also kept additional records, with one of the most helpful being communion books, which are similar to census records. Communion records listed things like occupation, where each person in the household had moved to/from (with dates!), and other general information about the family. These books can be very helpful in helping determine where to search next if your family suddenly disappears from the area.
Overcoming Language Barriers in Finnish Genealogy Research
Because the national languages are Finnish and Swedish, you’ll find that records are kept in both of these languages depending on the time period and person recording them. While it’s not necessary to fluently speak those languages in order to learn more about your Finnish ancestors, being familiar with key genealogical terms in each will help you be able to pick out the information you need from each record you find.
Our Team of Professional Genealogists Can Help
If you are interested in learning more about your Finnish ancestry, we’d love to help! Our experts know all about boundary and jurisdiction changes, languages, naming patterns, what records are expected to contain the information you need, and where those records are kept. We would love to help you extend your family lines!