Digital Archives is a well-known website for those researching their Finnish Ancestry. The National Archives of Finland has shut down this site and replaced it with a new web service called Uusi Astia. They already had a service called Astia (only in Finnish), which had mainly been used for browsing documents located in the Archives. The new service Uusi Astia is designed to be used both for browsing digital materials and materials located in the archive. It replaces the Digital Archives which was technologically obsolete. The new web site is available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

The National Archives of Finland, Hämeenlinna
The National Archives of Finland, Hämeenlinna (Photo: Kansallisarkisto)

The service Uusi Astia searches for documents by search words and shows both digitized documents and paper documents that can be accessed in the archives. Searches can be limited to digitized documents only, but if you do not use effective search words the number of results can be in the hundreds or thousands. That can prevent you from finding the document of interest.

Determining What Church Books Are Available

This section describes how you can get an overview of which Church books are available. You will find the search form on the page Search and browse of material of Uusi Astia. You may need to change the language on the upper right corner of the page.

Language change

So far, there is not a list of the parish archives which are available in Uusi Astia. To find the Church Book of the parish of interest, you need to use the correct name of the archive in the search. Above is a list of parish archives taken from the Digital Archives on February 2022. The archive name in Finnish speaking parishes is in Finnish (seurakunnan arkisto) and the name in Swedish speaking parishes is in Swedish (församlings arkiv). It is necessary to use the archive name given in the list. For example, the Finnish speaking parish of Alajärvi can be accessed by entering “Alajärven seurakunnan arkisto.”

Correct spelling of the words is important because the search finds only exact matches. You need to use the Scandinavian letters ä, ö and å in the search. Replacing them with a or o will not work. The easiest way to get the correct spelling is to download the parish archive pdf-file and copy-paste the parish archive name from the file. To ensure matches, it is useful to use asterix (*) in searches. If you are searching the Church book of Sääksmäki parish, the name in the list is Sääksmäen seurakunnan arkisto. You can write the whole name or simplify it with asterisks as Sääksm* seurak* ark*.

Uusi astia search

Without a start and end date, you will get 273 search results. Most parishes include a search result which is a description of that parish’s archive:

Archive information

By clicking Display information you get a description of the archive:

Archives in Sääksmäki parish.

This archive is divided into three parts. The subarchive Väestörekisteriarkisto (in Swedish Befolkningsregisterarkivet, in English Civil register archive) contains Church books which are important for genealogists. By clicking VÄESTÖREKISTERIARKISTO, you get a list of the church books available:

Church Books in Sääksmäki parish

By clicking 1A Pääkirjat, you will see the Communion books archive:

Communion books in Sääksmäki parish.

This archive is divided to Communion books covering specific time periods:

List of Communion books.

You can view these Communion books by clicking these links. However, a better way to reach the records of interest is given in next section.

Finding a Specific Communion Book

When you are interested in finding the Communion Books of a parish, you need to add word rippikirj* in addition to the Parish archive name. By using an asterisk at the end of the word, you will get results in which the word is either plural or in an inflected form (rippikirjat, rippikirjoja). If you are interested in the Communion Books for a certain time period, you can use the time limitation. If you want to find the Communion Books of Sääksmäki parish in 1800’s, you can use following search:

Communion book search.

This search returns 14 results. If you are only interested in digitized records, you should limit the search to Digital material only, which decreases the number of hits to 11.

Digital material only limitation.

All Communion books for this period will be in the search results. You can view a book from the tab View in digital form. Unfortunately, there are not yet indexes to locate the villages of interest in the book. The National Archives of Finland promises that indexes are coming in the future.

In Swedish speaking parishes you should add the search word kommunion (or kommuni*) to find the communion books. E.g., Vörå församlings arkiv kommuni*.

Browsing a Communion Book

You can browse the Sääksmäki parish communion book for the years 1804 to 1809 by clicking the View in digital form tab:

Civil register archive.

This will give you a list of pages from which to choose. This is not in English. “Avaa” means “open” and “Tiedosto” means “datafile”.

Images of the book.

When you click on a page, the image opens in a window where you can enlarge or downsize it. It is also possible to zoom in using the scroll wheel of the mouse. You can save or print the image. You can quickly browse the images in the book by using the slide bar at the bottom of the image. You can also enter a page number to go directly to that page. You can get instructions in English from the upper right corner of the window.

Browsing instructions.

Finding Other Church Books

You can find other Church books the same way as the Communion books. You search using the archive name of the parish and the name, or part of the name, of the Church book. Some Swedish speaking parishes may cause problems. Some archive names can be in Swedish, but the Church book names are in Finnish (eg. parishes in Åland i.e., Ahvenanmaa, in Vyborg i.e., Viipuri). Some archive names and Church book names are in Swedish (eg. Kronoby i.e., Kruunupyy; Vörå i.e., Vöyri). Sometimes you need to check how the Church books are named or try both the Finnish and Swedish search words. Next table contains the Finnish and Swedish names for some of the most often-used Church books and gives suggestions for a search word.

Churc bookFinnish and Swedish name of
the Church book
Suggested search word (in Finnish and in Swedish)
Communion bookRippikirja
Kommunion bok
Children’s bookLastenkirja
Birth recordsSyntyneiden ja kastettujen luettelot
Längder över födda och döpta

In and out movedMuuttaneiden luettelot
Längder över in- och utflyttade
Banns and marriagesKuulutettujen ja vihittyjen luettelot
Lysnings- och vigsellängder

Deaths and BurialsKuolleiden ja haudattujen luettelot
Längder över döda och begravda


Finding a Death Record

If you want to find the death record of a person who died in 1835 in Hämeenlinna city parish, you should use search words: Hämeenlinnan kaupunkiseurakunnan arkisto kuoll* or abbreviated eg. Hämeenl* kaupunkis* ark* kuoll*. If you limit the time to year 1835, you will get only the book which contains the death records of 1835.

Death record search.

If you do not limit the search to Digital material only, you will get two search results:

Death records in Hämeenlinna parish.

The first hit contains a description of all death records for Hämeenlinna city parish. By clicking the tab Display information, you get a list of all death records available:

List of death records.

The second hit Kuolleiden ja haudattujen luettelot (1820-1851) contains the death records of 1835. By clicking View in digital form you will get a result with 178 images:

Death record images.

Until there is a year index, you will have to search the records of 1835 by trial and error method. Browsing is quite easy, if you open (Avaa) the first image and use the slide bar under the image. You will find that year 1835 starts on image 56.

Death record page.

The lack of indexes makes browsing in the Church books more difficult and time consuming. It would be very helpful if the National Archives of Finland added comprehensive indexes as in the Digital Archives.

Digihakemisto (Digital Index) may help in browsing church books. Digihakemisto also changed as the Digital Archives stopped on 31st of March 2022. The site is now hosted by the Genealogical Society of Finland (Suomen Sukututkimusseura), and it has a new address: The layout has also been changed.

I will update this article as significant changes are made to Uusi Astia. I will also describe how to find Censuses using Uusi Astia in a forthcoming post.

English text edited by Barbara Wilson