Finland has more free historical records for genealogy research on the Internet than most countries. You have good chance of finding information on Finnish ancestors whose birthdates are before 1900. If you are lucky, you may also find some information on persons born after 1900.

Many people get most of their information from commercial genealogy sites like Ancestry, Geneanet, Geni, My Heritage, etc. The data from these sources are not checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Often errors in these sites occur when two people have the same name. Incorrect information can cause you to create an inaccurate branch on your family tree. It is important to check the accuracy of the information from these sites with the original sources. Only the original sources can confirm that the person you are adding to your tree is truly an ancestor and not another person with the same name.

Much of the official information on Finnish people can be found in the archives of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Almost everyone who lived in Finland since the late 1600’s has been recorded in the documents of the Lutheran or Orthodox parishes. Most of these records have survived, although some of them have been destroyed in fires or wars.

The most important parish resource is the Civil Registry, also called the History Books (Historiakirjat). These include:

  • The Registry of Christenings (births)
  • The Registry of Marriages
  • The Registry of Burials (deaths)

Another important set of records kept by the Lutheran church is the Communion Books. These are especially important for genealogists since they link family members.

A valuable resource for people looking for an ancestor’s information in the Church’s History Books is HisKi. This is a searchable database of births, deaths, and marriages created by volunteers and maintained by The Genealogical Society of Finland. In addition to information on christenings, marriages, and burials, it contains some information on people who moved into or out of a parish. Unfortunately, the database does not contain information on all Finnish parishes and there is no information on people born after 1900’s. In many parishes, the information only goes up to 1850. However, because HisKi is searchable and available in English, it is often a good place to begin your search.

One drawback of HisKi is that it occasionally contains errors. Information obtained from HisKi needs to be verified from original sources. The original church records can be found on the site Finland’s Family History Association (FFHA). This site is also created by volunteers who photograph the original records or microfilms.

You can access the parish records at no cost from the website:
by clicking on the Church Records link on the left bar.

To use the FFHA records, you need to have information about your ancestor’s parish and the years they lived there. The name of the parish is often the same as the name of the district, municipality, or town. However, there are some exceptions. If you do not know a person’s parish, HisKi can help. By searching for a person using information like a birthdate or spouse, you may discover the person’s parish. Once you know the parish a person lived in, you can select the parish from the first page of FFHA church records. You will then see the kind of records (birth, death, marriage, communion) and the time periods available for that parish.

Search page of Finland’s Family History Association (FFHA)

To access the information, you only need to know few words Finnish because the names of the records are not translated:

  • Pää- ja rippikirjat = Communion Books
  • Lastenkirjat = Books of Children. Often the children are listed in the Communion Book, with the rest of the family, but in some parishes the children were recorded in the Book of Children (Lastenkirjat) before they were confirmed.
  • Muuttaneet = Book of parish transfers (moves)
  • Syntyneiden ja Kastettujen Luettelot = Books of Born and Christened
  • Rippilasten Luettelo = Books of Confirmed Children
  • Kuulutettujen ja Vihittyjen Luettelo = Books of Banns and Married
  • Kuolleiden ja Haudattujen Luettelo = Books of Dead and Buried

To find a birth record, you choose the book with the time period that includes the birth year from the Syntyneet index. Once you find a record, the old handwriting and old Swedish language can cause problems. All the records were written in Swedish until late 1800’s. After that, Finnish was used in the Finnish speaking parishes. However, you do not need to be fluent in either language to get basic information from the church records. There is more information on the language and writing in my posts.

The free archive of FFHA is limited to records that are older than 120 years. If you become a member of the Finnish Family History Association, you gain access to additional records that are between 100 to 120 years old. This material is however not available for all the Finnish parishes. If you become more involved in genealogy research, it is worth considering membership in FFHA. However this newer material is not yet available for all the Finnish parishes.

Another place where you can find original church records, as well as other historical material, is the Uusi Astia service of the National Archives of Finland. This material is digitized from original records and the pictures are often better quality than those in the FFHA records. The coverage of the two sites is not identical. The records that are not available at FFHA might be found in the Digital Archives.

In addition to church records, the Uusi Astia contain many other types of historical records. You can search for records by using key words.

Search page of Uusi Astia.

This service is more difficult to use than the FFHA and it will be described in my posts. You should use the name of the parish usually in English but in case of Swedish speaking parishes in Swedish and include words seurakunnan arkisto or in case of Wedish speaking parish församlings arkiv (parish archive) in the search.

To make searching the Digital archives easier, amateurs genealogists have created a site Digihakemisto, Digital index which makes the search easier. This project, which is not part of the work of the National Archives, is ongoing so there are not yet indices for all records. I will describe its use in my blog posts.

The services of the National Archive of Finland (earlier Digital Archives now Uusi Astia) and the Digihakemisto changed remarkable on March 2022. My blog post are not yet updated by those changed but will be updated in near future.

With these Internet sites you can begin researching your Finnish ancestors. My blog posts provide more detail on using these sources including example searches. If you have problems with your searches, do not hesitate to use my services. I will guide you in the use of online Finnish records You will be able to answer questions like

  • When was my ancestor born?
  • Who were my ancestor’s parents?
  • Who were my ancestor’s siblings?
  • When did my ancestor die and how?

I can either provide just the requested information, or if you like, I can also provide guidance on how you can find that type of the information yourself.