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

Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran kirjaston etnologian osasto
Kuva: Pentti Sammallahti / SKS
Collection of personal narratives 9.12.2022–31.8.2023

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 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. 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?

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 ( or Stefan Nygård (, 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.

Collection guidelines at the SKS archives can be found here.

If your answer exceeds 5 000 characters, attach the answer as a text file.
Your background information is important for the use of material. Background information given on this form will be linked to your answer.
SKS stores the recorded material and makes it available for public use in accordance with SKS’s mission. SKS’s mission is to promote, study and publicise Finnish culture. SKS processes personal data related to the collected material for archival purposes that serve the public interest in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The collected material, its cataloguing information and the related personal data will be stored permanently for archival purposes, and they can be made freely available under the valid SKS archive guidelines to the extent allowed by law. When processing personal data for archival purposes that serve the public interest, the data subject’s rights described in the General Data Protection Regulation do not apply as a rule. For further information about the processing of personal data, please visit our website. More information about the use of material. If you have questions about the processing of personal data and the use of material, please contact the customer service team of the SKS archive.
The providing of contact information is voluntary. We ask you to give us your contact information, because there will be a book prize draw from among all those who have answered. In addition, we will process the respondents’ information for future reference, e.g. for research purposes or to require copyright permission, because we need your consent to publish the material or use it in presentations. If the material that you send to us is archived under a pen name, we will delete your contact information after the prize draw. Then, it will be possible to cite the material but it cannot be published as a whole.