The archives of the Migration Institute of Finland consist of the Migration Collections and the institute’s own official archives. The Migration Collections mostly include cultural heritage and research material related to emigration and expatriate Finns.

The Migration Collections are open to all and the materials are for the most part freely available for use. The archives are open during the opening hours of the Migration Institute of Finland. The descriptive metadata of the Migration Collections material as well as selections of material can also be accessed via the shared Finna search service of Finnish archives, libraries and museums.

Materials of the Migration Collections

At the beginning of 2021, the Migration Collections contained cultural heritage and research materials from a total of over 1,000 individuals and organisations. The collections keep expanding due to donations and contributions received from different parties. In addition, the collections accumulate via the institute’s own acquisitions and copying.

The Migration Collections include:

  • TEXTS – Letters, diaries, minutes, travel and other such official documents, newspaper cuttings, etc.
  • PHOTOS – Prints, negatives, digital photos, slides, postcards and posters. In total approx. 45,000.
  • FILM – Both raw footage and aired recordings of different television shows and documentary films.
  • SOUND – Interview recordings, music recordings and radio programmes.
  • ARTEFACTS – Trunks, clothing, works of fine art, etc.

Introduction to the Migration Collections

What archive?

  • From the very beginning the activities of the Migration Institute of Finland (MIF) have included the maintenance of a cultural heritage archive.
    • This archive is referred to as the Migration Collections.
  • Strong emphasis on documenting emigration and expatriate Finnishness.
    • Also immigration-related data has accumulated since the 1990s, though collecting hasn’t been systematic thus far.

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General statistics on the collections

  • Ca. 1 000 Archive / Collection creators.
  • Approx. 2 113 accumulative events (donations, depositions, acquisitions, reproductions) by April 2021.
    • yearly average: 45
  • Origin of the material, geographic distribution:
    • United States 50 %
    • Australia 15 %
    • Canada 10 %
    • South America 10 %
    • Asia, Africa, Europe 15 %
    • In total, the collections contain materials from nearly 60 countries.
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Archive / Collection creators

  • Migrants as private persons
  • Associations, clubs and organizations established by migrants
  • Descendents of migrants abroad (2nd and 3rd gen.)
  • Friends and relatives of migrants
  • Other individuals from abroad; friends of Finland interested in the topic of migration
  • People interested in migration: genealogists, writers, journalists etc.
  • Migration researchers: research data
  • Finnish associations and organizations with connections to expatriate Finns (e.g., Finland Society)
  • Finnish authorities, other archives and museums with contacts to expatriate Finns or immigrants
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Main data groups

  • Official documents
  • Private letters
  • Diaries
  • Memoirs and autobiographical writings
  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Organizational documents
  • Artifacts

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Official documents

  • Travel documents
  • Passports, tickets, etc.
  • Naturalization documents
  • Certificates related to different life stages
  • Official letters
  • Work documents
  • Payslips, union membership cards, etc.
  • Deed documents, etc.

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Private letters

  • Ca. 15 000 items in total.
  • The most used data group in the archive (among researchers).
  • A noted collection: Around 6 000 deposited original migrant letters from the collection campaign organized by the Southern Ostrobotnia Student’s Club of the University of Helsinki.

 

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Excerpt from Joseph Johnson’s letter to his wife, Carolina. London, England, 1862. This is the oldest private letter in the Migration Collections.

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Diaries

  • Total amount in the archives: ca. 40
  • Travel diaries: 50 %
  • Time span: 1899-2006

 

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Pages from a tour diary of a Finnish-American musician, John Rosendahl, 1930.

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Memoirs and autobiographical writings

  • Total amount in the Migration Collections: ca. 30.
  • Large variations in scope: from a few pages of notes to hundreds of pages of manuscripts.

 

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Excerpt from the memoirs of an Ingrian priest, pp. 302-303.

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Interviews

  • On recordings and/or in transcripts
  • Recording formats: mp3, CD, cassette, minidisc, dat-tape, reel-to-reel
  • Total length of recordings over 700 hours
  • Recordings by the Migration Institute of Finland: 30-40 %

 

 

Olavi Koivukangas (director of the Migration Institute of Finland, 1974-2009) interviewing Kalevi Havukainen, a farmer, in Australia, 1981.

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Photographs

  • More than 26 000 prints in the physical collection
  • About 12 000 images in born-digital form
  • Photographs are our most requested data group
    • media
    • professional and amateur researchers
    • exhibitions
    • theatre performances, etc.

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Organizational documents

  • Active organizing typical for expatriate Finns around the world: ”Finland-societies”, political organizations, sports clubs, cultural associations, temperance societies, etc.
  • Histories of these associations and organizations stored in the Migration Collections in various scope: from isolated minutes to complete archives.
    • Examples of the latter: Cultural Asociatión Kaleva (Spain), Finland Society of Tully (Australia), Central Committee of the Finnish Societies of Greater New York (USA)

Excerpt from the rules of ”Suomen Heimoseura” of Mount Isa. Australia, 1935.

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Artifacts

  • Historical collections: ca. 3 200 objects
    • tools
    • textiles
    • travel trunks
    • household instruments, etc.
  • Art collection: ca. 250 items
    • paintings
    • sculptures
    • textile works

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More data groups

  • Other sound recordings: music recordings (including several hundred phonograph records), radio programs
  • Audio-visual data: raw materials, television programs, documentary films
  • Research data
  • Clippings
  • Ephemera
  • Emigrant newspapers

Finnish American TV presenter Carl Pellonpää hosted a weekly program called Finland Calling for 53 consecutive years (1962-2015). Our archive has received from him more than 500 hours of program material.

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Digital materials

  • Why digitize our archives?
    • We want to ensure the preservation and usability of archive material; it is therefore a matter of following the basic principles of archival management.
  • The digitization work progresses:
    • Comprehensive digitization of key data groups: 60% of letters, more than 80% of photographs.
    • The goal for the near future is to improve the online accessibility of digitized materials.

 

Screenshot of the Finna online service.

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Using the Migration Collections

  • The archive is open for all and the materials are mostly freely available.
  • Physical materials can be researched at the Institute.
  • Copies of digital material can be provided for remote use (cloud service, e-mail).
  • A user agreement is drawn up for the use of the materials. It defines the purpose of use, conditions for publishing, etc.
  • Digitization done as a result of a material request is free of charge. For photocopying a small fee is charged.
  • Taking pictures of the materials with your own camera is allowed.
  • Information about the materials is available through the nationwide Finna search service and by contacting the archivist directly.
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Collection policy of the Migration Collections (Approved by the board of Migration Institute of Finland on December 10, 2020)

Processing and storage of the materials are based, for example, on the following regulations and instructions:

  • Archives Act (1994/831)
  • Data Protection Act (1050/2018)
  • General Data Protection Regulation of the EU
  • Screening instructions for private archives (AL/12726/00.01.02/2010)
  • Regulation and instructions for archives repositories (AL/19699/07.01.01.00/2012)
  • Protective material instructions (KA/13459/07.01.01.00/2018)
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