Currently, the collection features about 170,000 pictures. The photography collections are mostly from the 20th century. There are only a few examples of material from the 19th century. The material is characterised by their private nature: a large proportion of the photographs comes from the albums of private persons.
The traditional and contemporary culture picture collection is divided into the following collections:
- Topographic and cumulative collection
- Photographer collection
- Fieldwork collection
- Traditions collection
- Drawing collection
Topographic collection and cumulative collection
The topographic collection features about 2,000 pictures from 1900 to 1974. The pictures have been received from donors, usually in connection with manuscript material. The featured topics include people, landscapes and buildings. A significant number of the photographs were taken by private persons, but the oldest portraits were usually taken at photographic studios. The photographs have been organised by municipality.
Until 1974, all the archive’s photo material was included in the topographic collection. Since then, photo material belonging to the photographer, fieldwork and traditions collections has been separated from the topographic collection.
The cumulative collection includes material archived after 1974 which does not belong in the other main groups.
The photographer collection features the material of certain photographers as their own unit. A separate catalogue has been compiled for the collection.
The photographer collection also includes old fieldwork material from 1872 to 1960. A common concern for most photographers was the use of photography to conserve traditions.
Only one professional photographer is included in this collection: I. K. Inha travelled to Viena Karelia with Kusti Karjalainen to collect traditions in 1894, and the collection has 220 photographs from this expedition.
The fieldwork collection contains material photographed during the archive’s own recording work since the 1960s. In addition to the archive workers’ photographs, the collection contains material from students and scholarship holders who participated in the work.
The fieldwork subjects include the traditions of certain municipalities or groups, and the photographs depict the interviewed people and their surroundings. More extensive recording work took place, for example, in Kauhajoki, Liperi and Sysmä in the 1960s and 1970s, and in Pieksämäki and Ranua in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the neighbouring areas of Aunus, Inkeri and Viena also became popular expedition destinations. The first extensive recording project for one traditional custom took place between 1973 and 1975, when the “Nuuttipukki” St Knut’s Day tradition was recorded.
Picture material received for the archive in connection with different competitions and surveys held for collecting material are kept as their own units. Not all collections include picture material, and the amount of received material varies.
Drawing collections are mainly kept in connection with manuscript collections, either as their own separate bindings or alongside the manuscript texts. Municipal-based index files are also available for some of the drawing – “drawing index files”.
The drawings may be individual works or larger entities. The most well-known are Samuli Paulaharju’s quantitatively and geographically comprehensive collection of drawings from 1900–1942, and Agaton Reinholm’s collection of 552 ethnological drawings from Satakunta in 1879 and Karelia in 1880.
The photographs’ content data
The data of the traditional and contemporary culture picture collection has been listed in several different index files and directories, as well as in the archive information system in use today.
The index files in use:
- index term file
- municipality index file
- slide index file
- photographer-donor index file
- accrual index file
- drawing index file
The same basic data repeats throughout the listings. The following information has been included, partly or in full: signum, donor, photographer, photograph’s municipality, date of the donation, date of photography, subject, picture type (photograph, drawing, photo negative), picture size and additional information.