Textual material

The manuscript collections contain a total of around 600 metres of folklore and oral history. The collections feature more than four million fairy-tales, stories, dictums, songs, beliefs or other texts about traditions.

The traditional and contemporary culture collection has mainly been collected by individual collectors who have donated them to SKS and the archive. A significant part of the material has been collected through competitions and separate surveys.

A master list based on the collector (donor), as well as comprehensive directories based on the municipalities, has been compiled for the manuscripts. Additionally, the archive offers access to a large number of tradition-specific and thematic index files and directories.

A significant part of the oldest collection, the “Star Collection”, consists of notes made by Elias Lönnrot (1802–1884) during his poetry collecting expeditions, which he used when compiling Kalevala and Kanteletar. At first, the collections mainly consisted of poetry in the Kalevala meter, but in time, the scope of the content has become more extensive. Some major achievements by individual collectors are the Collection of traditions from Karelia, Ostrobothnia, Lapland and Ruija recorded by Samuli Paulaharju (1875–1944) and his wife, Jenny, and Johan K. Harju’s (1910–1976) collection of the life and traditions of people down-on-their luck from the 1960s and 1970s.

The general tradition collections and competitions held for collecting material aimed at the general public were started in the 1930s. A competition for collecting material was held to honour the centennial of Kalevala in 1935, and the contributors were used to compile a contributor network for the archive, and it is still in operation. In the 1960s, large thematic collections were started about social phenomena such as the events of 1918, unemployment in the 1990s, the traditions of different professional and age groups, family and municipal traditions, and biographies.

Archive material has also been collected through surveys. The survey of the ethnological Muurahaiset association was carried out between 1886 and 1900. The archive’s own surveys concerning folklore and tradition phenomena were started in 1936 through the Kansantieto journal. Today, most of the surveys and collections are executed with our partners.

Information search

Some of the tradition and memory data material, as well as catalogues and index files, can be used online, for example the Suomen Kansan Vanhoja Runoja material (old poems of Finns in Finnish).

Additionally, the archive hall has many directories and index files you can use to search for information, and the archive’s customer terminals enable you to make searches, for example, in the archive’s information system, the collector and holder database, or Elias Lönnrot’s digitised Lönnrotiana archive.

We will perform some of the searches as a service.

The key matters and data sources available for searches

Name of the person or community Municipality
  • Collector lists (“IT lists”) until 1980
  • Collector index file (main index file) until 1987
  • Archive information system 1992–
  • Separate archive-specific personal directories
  • Municipal lists (“IT lists”) until 1980
  • Topographic index file of oral tradition
  • Town directory of ethnographical descriptions
  • Archive information system 1992–
  • Tradition regions
Tradition type Name or theme of the collection/material unit
  • Tradition-type index files
  • Archive information system 1992–
  • Tradition-specific collected material
  • Internet homepages
  • Arkiston avain book
  • Subject lists of the Kansantieto journal’s surveys
  • Archive information system 1992–
Subject matter Date
  • Reference index file of ethnographical descriptions
    (E-index file)
  • Collection or material-specific theme directories
  • Sub-classes of tradition-type file indexes
  • Collection summaries
  • Archive information system 1992–
  • Recording or archiving date:
    archive signum, annual reports
  • Event date:
    themes, keywords