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Using the Census to Learn About Finnish ancestors

The Census can provide an alternate source of information in your search for Finnish ancestors. They are useful if the Church records were destroyed and for the years before the beginning of the Church books. The Census does not contain as much information about family members as the Church books; however they give additional information about the wealth of the family, the size of the farm and the other families living on the same farm.

Census of Vöyri parish.
Census of Vöyri parish in 1635.
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Digihakemisto helps you find records in the National Archives of Finland

Since the Digital Archives have been disabled, finding genealogical documents in the National Archives of Finland has become more difficult. The new service Uusi Astia requires using precise search words. Also, many indexes which were available in the Digital Archives are not yet available in the Uusi Astia.

Digihakemisto is a web site that genealogists have created to make searching the Digital Archives easier. The work is ongoing so the site does not yet contain indexes for all archived records. Digihakemisto had to be change when the Digital Archive was disabled because they used the same database. After the changes, Digihakemisto was moved to another server and is now available at

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Uusi Astia. A new web portal for browsing the genealogical data of the National Archives of Finland

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)
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Estate Inventories and Property Estimates for the Deceased

This page has been updated and corrected on 3rd of March 2023 due to changes in the services of the National Archives of Finland and the Digihakemisto.

A Finnish estate inventory (bouppteckning in Swedish, perukirja in Finnish) provides interesting information about the property of a deceased ancestor.  The document also lists the deceased’s beneficiaries. This may allow you to discover additional family members. The inventories can be found in the archives of the Judicial Districts or the City Courts. The estate inventory of a person whose spouse remarried after their death may also be found in the Church Archives. I will briefly describe the content of the Finnish Estate Inventory then explain how you can find the documents. I will conclude by providing examples of two inventories.

Estate inventory of Uno Cygnaeus.
The Estate Inventory of Uno Cygnaeus, the developer of Finland’s school system.
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Absolution records

People who committed serious offenses against Church or civil law were prohibited from taking communion. Before they could take communion, again, they had to confess their offences and show regret for what they had done. After doing this, they would receive absolution.  The requirement that a person confess was often announced in the district court along with their civil punishment. These confessions were registered in the Absolution Records (in Finnish, Ripitettyjen luettelo and in Swedish, Absolutions bok, Absolutions längd or Absolverade personer). The Swedish name for these books might also be a description of the contents as in the photo below. In addition to information about confessions, the Absolution Records also contain information about other ecclesiastical punishments. 

The Absolutions Book of Eura
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Criminal Records may reveal the crimes and offenses of your ancestors

You may have found in a Communion Book that one of your ancestors has a marking indicating they committed a crime or misdemeanor. These markings stay in subsequent Communion Books and even follow a person if they move. The Moving Certificate brings the information to the new parish. More detailed information about the offense can be found from the Church’s Criminal Record Books (Misdemeanor Records, this is how FFHA referes to these records although the records include more serious crimes) if when they are available. Due to the sensitivity of these records, some parishes do not allow genealogists to access them. In other parishes the records are not yet digitized.

Stocks in the Old Church of Sipoo (photograph Anneli Salo).
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Pre-confirmation records

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.
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Moving Records and Moving Certificates

An ancestor, who moves from one parish to another often causes problems for genealogists. It can be difficult to trace older children when they move to another parish or village for work or marriage. Sometimes a whole family moves to another parish. Moving Records can provide their new location. The Moving Certificate gives information about who moved, the moving date, and where they went. A summary of the certificate is entered in the Muuttaneet parish books.

Ullanlinnankatu 3-5, Helsinki 1907
Ulriikaporinkatu 3-5, Helsinki, nowadays Ullanlinnankatu, on year 1907. A horse pulling a moving load.
Signe Brander – Helsinki City museum.
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The Registry of Burials

The date of death is often recorded in the communion book or at least a cross is placed in front of the person’s record to indicate that the person died during the period of that communion book. You will find more detailed information like age, cause of death and day of burial from the Registry of Burials. This post tells how you find the death records of your Finnish ancestors.

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The Registry of Marriages

The Finnish registry of marriages can provide information about the couple, especially the wife, that is often not available in the communion record books. For example, the last name (or farm name) of the wife is not always included in the couple’s communion record, but it is recorded in the registry of marriages. The marriage records also provide information about the husband and wife’s occupations, indicating their families’ social classes.  Finally, the records document where the man and woman were living when they decided to marry. This article will describe the Finnish marriage records and how to find them.

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