Ihmisiä lukemassa pöytien äärellä kirjastossa.

The history of science in Finland – oral history and individual recollections

The Finnish Literature Society (SKS) and the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS) are gathering personal narratives and recollections by scientists and researchers that are or have been active in Finland. The collection is part of a larger project on the history of science in Finland, organised in collaboration with the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, the National Archives of Finland, and the Finnish Historical Society. The purpose of the oral historical element of this project is to collect information about the development of practices across scientific disciplines in Finland. We are interested in hearing about the respondents’ own descriptions, definitions and demarcations of their respective fields of expertise. “Narrating by writing” is an excellent way of accessing information about processes to which the respondents themselves have contributed. Documented experiences by scientific practitioners are valuable sources for historical studies of science and knowledge.

The following thematic questions can be used as guidelines for structuring your recollections:

  1. Tell us about your ‘scientific life’: Which discipline or field of research do you represent? Where do you/have you worked and what is your area of expertise?
  2. Biography: What is your personal background and how did you become a scholar?
  3. Provide a general assessment of the past and present state of your discipline: What are the core questions in your field of research? Have there been major scientific developments, breakthroughs, and events during your career?
  4. Describe some of the main theoretical and methodological developments in your discipline. Have specific scholars, universities, research institutions or countries been particularly influential for your field of research and for your own research?
  5. Consider the relationship between your research field and societal development: What kind of social processes and events have contributed to reshaping scientific practices and interpretations? You may refer to recent events, occurrences and solutions that have had an impact on your research field.
  6. Finland and the international circulation of knowledge: What are your thoughts on Finland’s position in the global scientific community? What are the country’s main challenges and advantages in terms of scientific internationalisation?

The written submissions may be freely formulated. In addition to historical facts and events, we ask the respondents to consider key developments and transformations in their disciplines.

Upon submission, SKS will ask for permission to store your written recollections in its archives.

For more information, please contact Development manager Eija Stark at the Archives of the Finnish Literature Society (eija.stark@finlit.fi) or Stefan Nygård (stefan.nygard@helsinki.fi), scientific coordinator for the project History of science in Finland.


Write in your own language and style. There is no word limit for the recollections. Write your name, contact details, date of birth and current occupation on the first page of your submission. State your approval of the recollections being stored in the SKS archives under your name and made available for later research.

Photo: Pentti Sammallahti. SKS KIA.