Pre-confirmation records (also called Children’s Book, in Finnish Lastenkirjat, in Svedish Barnbok or Barna Bok) give additional information about a family. Some parishes recorded the newborn children in Pre-confirmation Records instead of in the Communion Book. In these parishes, the names of the children were only moved to the Communion Book after they were confirmed. The Pre-confirmation Records were most frequently used in eastern Finland. This post tells how you can use Pre-confirmation Records in genealogical research.

Playing Children, photo by the Museum of Central Finland
Playing children
Photo: Liina Cantell, 1910 – 1919, Finnish Heritage Agency.

The Pre-confirmation Records information is divided by villages, farms, and families. The record includes the father’s name and occupation, the mother’s name and her age, the names of the children, their birth dates, and their ability to read and to learn the Christian doctrine. Also, the children’s small pox vaccination status and possible death were recorded. Pre-confirmation Records were more commonly used after 1790’s, but in some parishes of Eastern Finland, they were used already from 1750’s. Pre-confirmation Records were not used in all parishes, instead the names of children were recorded in the Communion Book.

My example for Pre-confirmation Records is the Stenvall family. The original name of our National Novelist Aleksis Kivi was Aleksis Stenvall. He was born on 10th of October 1834 in Nurmijärvi Parish (Palojoki village). His father was a tailor Erik Johan Stenvall and his mother Anna Kristiina Hamberg.

Aleksis Kivi birth record
Birth record:
10. 12 Alexis P: Skräd. Eric Joh. Stenvall, hu Anna Stina Hamberg Handolin Palojoki
T. B. Anders Simonsson Ojackala, hu Anna Sofia Michelsdr
B. Johan Ericksson Heickilä, B.dr. Charlotta Micheldr.
Alexis. Father: tailor Eric Johan Stenvall, wife Anna Stina Hamberg
Godparents: Farmer Anders Simonsson Ojakkala, wife Anna Sofia Michelsdotter,
farmer Johan Eriksson Heikkilä, farmer’s daughter Charlotta Michelsdotter.

The Stenvall family can be found in the Communion Book of Nurmijärvi, years 1830 to 1841 in Palojoki village under heading “Handtverckare” (Craftsmen) from page 476. The book contains the records of Erik, Anna, Eriks sister Charlotta, their adult son Johannes and three apprentices.

Stenvall family in the Nurmijärvi Communion Book 1830 to 1841
Stenvall family in the Nurmijärvi Communion Book 1830 to 1841.

The young children who had not been confirmed were not recorded in the Communion Book. They were recorded in the Pre-confirmation Books of Nurmijärvi Parish which had Pre-confirmation records from 1779 onwards.

Nurmijärvi Preconfirmation Records

The under aged children of Stenvall family were recorded in the Pre-confirmation Records of years 1831 to 1842 in page 495, which can be found from the FFHA archive in image 266.

Aleksis Kivi in the Preconfirmation Book  1831 to 1842
Skrädd: Eric Johan Stenvalls B. med Anna St. Hamberg f. 1793.
Tailor Erik Johan Stenvall’s children with Anna Stina Hamberg b. 1793.
Son Johannes 29/8 1825 xxxxxxxxxxxx x vax. adm. 41
Son Emmanuel 30/11 1828 y.xxxxxx x:x x vax.
Son Albert 2/11 1831 xyxxxx:x x x vac. 32
Son Alexis 10/10 1834 y x x : : : : : : vacc. 35
Daughter Agnes 17/7 1837 vacc. 38

This Pre-confirmation Book has following columns:

  • Village, farm, parents, and children names
  • Birthdate
  • Ability to read
  • knowledge of reading and writing as taught in the ABC Book
  • knowledge of Luther Catechism with Explanation
  • Remarks

The oldest son of the family is recorded in both the Pre-confirmation Records and in the Communion book. He was confirmed on 1841 (adm. 41 = admitterad 1841, confirmed 1841) so his name was entered to the Communion Book that year. Emmanuel and Albert were quite advanced in their Christian Doctrine studies during the period of the records, but Aleksis has just started his studies and Agnes has not yet started hers. All the children have been vaccinated (vax. or vacc. = vaccinerad).

All the children, except Johannes were listed in the Pre-confirmation Record book of years 1843 to 1852. Stenvall family is in Palojoki village records in image 282 (page 493).

Stenvall family in the Preconfirmation Book of Nurmijärvi
Stenvall family in the Pre-confirmation Book of Nurmijärvi (years 1843 to 1852).

In this book there are more columns to record learning and there is a separate column for recording confirmation (Blifvit Admitterad). The confirmation of Emanuel was however marked in the last column (adm. 18 25/6 44 = confirmed on 25th of June 1844). Albert was confirmed in 1847 and Aleksis in 1851. Aleksis’ record also has the marking till pag 493 i Com. B (to the page 493 in the Communion Book). Aleksis’ sister Agnes died before confirmation (Död 18 21/5 51 = Dead 21st May 1851). From the Registry of Burials you can learn that the cause of her death was measles (Messling).

Stenvall family does not have any records in the next Pre-confirmation Book. Anna did not have any other children after 1852.

Let’s also look at the earlier Pre-confirmation Book for the years 1820 to 1830. Stenvall family is recorded in Palojoki village and can be found in image 205 of the Nurmijärvi Parish in FFHA (page 329):

Stenvall in Preconfirmation records
Stenvall family in the Pre-confirmation Record book of years 1820 to 1830.

Only sons Johan and Emanuel were born. They had not yet any Christianity studies. They were vaccinated (vacc.)

From Pre-confirmation Records you can find all the siblings of Aleksis Stenvall and their birth dates. In fact, the only place you can find Aleksis’ sister Agnes is in the Pre-confirmation Books. Erik Stenvall’s children were:

  • Johannes b. 29th of August 1825
  • Emanuel b. 30th of November 1828
  • Albert b. 2nd of November 1831
  • Aleksis b. 10th of October 1834
  • Agnes b. 17th of July 1837 d. 21st of May 1851.

It is a good idea to check the birth and death dates obtained from the Pre-confirmation Records in the Registries of Christening and Burials.

Pre-confirmation Records give information about children in the parishes where they were used. The children who died before confirmation are found only in the Pre-confirmation Records. Also, the children who married immediately after their confirmation may never have been recorded with their parents in the Communion Book since after marriage they were recorded with their spouse.

In the next post I will write about Misdemeanor Records (Rikoskirjat or Rikosluettelot in Finnish, Brottmåls Bok or Brottmåls Längder in Swedish) which tell of the crimes and smaller offences of the parishioners.

English text edited by Barbara Wilson