Go to homepageUncovering the common past of the countries around the Baltic Sea in the years 1450-1800

National Archives of Finland

Suomen Kansallisarkisto / Finlands Riksarkiv

visiting address 
Rauhankatu 17 

postal address
P.O. Box 258
00171 Helsinki

+358.(0)9.228 521

+358.(0)9.176 302



project contact
Juhani Piilonen

opening hours
reading room: Mon-Fri 9.00–20.00, Sat 9.00–15.00
in summer (from 1 June to 31 August): Mon-Fri 9.00–18.00, Sat closed
expedition: Mon-Fri 10.00–16.00

No formal permission is needed to get admittance to the National Archives of Finland and the provincial archives. According to the Act on the Openness of government Activities all governmental records are freely accessible for everyone unless specially provided otherwise by legislation. That means that most of the records preserved in the National Archives and the provincial archives are freely accessible. There are, however, also records in the National Archives that are kept secret for defined periods. Foreigners have, however, to fill out a questionnaire with personal data and the subject of study.
The National Archives of Finland is situated in the centre of the City and can easily be reached by bus and tram.

holdings, mission, structure
The National Archives of Finland dates its origin to 1816 when the position of an archivist was established in the Imperial Finnish Senate. In 1859 the Archives was opened for the public and in 1918 it became an independent board under the Ministry of Education. Provincial archives, subordinated to the National Archives, have been established in Finland since 1927. The first Archives Act was issued in 1939 and the actual Act, the third in order, is from 1994.
The National Archives of Finland has the status of a central board for the National Archives Service consisting of the National Archives and seven regional state archives, the provincial archives. The National Archives has on the one side functions as an archival repository for the preservation of permanently valuable records of the state administration and on the other side functions as supervisor and adviser of the state and municipal administration in matters concerning records management.
As a repository the National Archives is responsible for the preservation of the permanently valuable records of the central state administration, i.e. the ministries, the central national boards, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and other state agencies with a nation-wide responsibility. The records creators transfer their records with permanent value to the National Archives when they are 40 years old. In addition, the National Archives preserves private archives of national significance. – The provincial archives have corresponding duties in their districts.

relevant publications
* Guide to the Public Archives of Finland, ed. R. Viikki and E. Orrman (Helsinki, 1980).

holdings concerning the Baltic Sea
Finland belonged to 1809 (i.e. during the whole period covered by Baltic Connections project) to the Swedish realm. The Government and the central administration of the state were situated in Stockholm and thus the archives produced by these authorities are preserved in Swedish archival repositories. That is true also for the foreign relations.
In principle the archives from the period 1500–1800 preserved in Finnish archival institutions are produced by regional and local organizations. An important exception are the accounts of the Finnish local and regional cameral authorities from the period 1537–1808 that were sent to Stockholm for revision but were delivered by Swedish authorities to the authorities of the Grand Duchy of Finland in accordance with the Peace Treaty between Russia and Sweden in 1809.
A characteristic feature of the records preserved in Finnish archival repositories concerning relations to the countries around the Baltic Sea in the period 1500–1800 is that they are not concentrated to some specific fonds or series of records. On the contrary, such records are usually scattered among records dealing with interior matters. A general characteristic of these records is that they document in a great extent ordinary contacts of ordinary people to neighbouring regions around the Baltic Sea. In the following some examples are presented: 
* The series of cameral state records: custom accounts of local custom houses from some years of the 16th century, from some years of the second half of the 17th century and from the 1710s: information concerning foreign trade.
* The archives of local custom houses from the 18th century: records with information of foreign trade.
* Archives of town administrations, minutes and judgement books: information on activities of immigrated merchants and other foreigners, 17th to 18th century.
* Judgement books of lower courts of mining localities: Information on immigrated mining specialists, e.g. Walloons and Germans, 17th and 18th century.

Licence accounts from Turku listing goods on departing vessels, 1720