Ingria and Ingrians – recording histories, preserving memories

SKS Archives: E171 / Ingrica III, Samuli Paulaharju, Ingria, 1911.
The two-year cooperation project brings together information about archival materials relating to Ingria and Ingrians. New materials are also being collected and archived at the same time.

The Ingria and Ingrians – recording histories, preserving memories project (2018–2020) is an archiving and cultural memory organisation project which promotes the acquisition, availability and usability of materials. The cooperation project is implemented by the National Archives of Finland, the cultural foundation Inkeriläisten sivistyssäätiö and the Finnish Literature Society (SKS).

Recording histories

The project will include interviews with Ingrian returnees and their descendants. The interviews are already partly urgent, given that even the descendants of Ingrians who returned to Finland in the 1920s and 1940s are getting very advanced in years. On the other hand, the memories and experiences of Ingrians who returned in the 1990s have not been collected as extensively before as they are being now, in the context of this project. The interviews, to be used for research purposes, are recorded in the archive of SKS.

The objective is to collect more original materials regarding Ingrian Finns – such as diaries, letters and photographs – so as to preserve as much of Ingrian history as possible for future generations and researchers. The aim is to record archival materials related to the activities of Ingrian associations in addition to personal archives. The materials contributed during the project will be stored in the collections of the National Archives and SKS, which already contain some materials on the subject.

Preserving memories

To improve the usability of the archives, SKS and the National Archives have undertaken to organise all of their existing materials on Ingrians and all such materials they obtain during the course of the Ingria and Ingrians – recording histories, preserving memories project. Some of the previously organised materials will also be revised, i.e. catalogued and described in more detail than has been done so far. The materials (including recordings) will also be digitalised in the context of the project. The cataloguing and digitising improves the retrievability of the materials and ensures their preservation.

The project will also include a survey aiming to find the Finnish cultural memory organisations (such as archives and museums) which have archived materials on Ingrians. Other objectives include the creation of a virtual archive on Ingrians in connection with the roll-out of the national directory service AHAA for archives that researchers and other people interested in the topic could browse in the Finna directory service.

Archived materials on Ingrians located beyond the borders of Finland will also be surveyed during later stages of the project. This involves cooperation with cultural memory organisations in, for instance, our neighbouring countries Russia, Sweden and Estonia.

Material on Ingrians in the archives of SKS

As is the case in with other Finno-Ugric peoples, material on Ingrian culture has been collected and recorded at SKS since before the mid-1800s. The Society’s first Secretary General, Elias Lönnrot, visited Ingria in 1844. D.E.D. Europaeus and Henrik August Reinholm, on the other hand, travelled to Ingria together in 1847. The folklore they recorded ended up in parts of Kalevala, for example, and was published in the folk poetry collection Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot. These materials also form a part SKS’s collection on traditional and contemporary culture, the oldest section of which belongs to the star collection. After Europaeus and Reinholm, several renowned heritage collectors, including Volmari Porkka, Vihtori Alava, A.O. Väisänen and Samuli Paulaharju recorded and described Ingrian culture for future generations.

SKS’s collection on literature and cultural history includes the archived materials of private persons with an Ingrian background, such as  Aale Tynni, Pekka Mutanen, Juho Pakkanen, Juhani and Anita Konka as well as Antti and Irene Tiittanen. The researchers of literature, linguistics and folkloristics active within the circles of SKS were interested in Ingria and Ingrians, not only from the perspective of culture and affinity between languages, but the idea of Greater Finland. This is why Ingrian materials can be found from the archives of both researchers – such as Lauri Hakulinen, Niilo Kärki and Martti Haavio – and writers like Kaarlo Marjanen, Tauno Koskela and Ilmari Turja. An Ingrian collection was also extracted once from the archives of SKS. It includes documents, maps and photographs regarding Ingria separated from Martti Haavio’s archive. This archival material, censored due to political reasons, was not released until the early 2000s.

Ingrian materials in the National Archives

Materials related to Ingria and Ingrians can be found in the National Archives’ locations in Helsinki, Hämeenlinna, Oulu, Turku and Vaasa. A majority of the material relates to the activities of associations and congregations which were active in Ingria and people who were active in the Ingrian freedom movement.   The collections of the National Archives also include materials related to displaced Ingrians and the management of the affairs of Ingrian refugees, originally from the archive of Inkerin Apu (1919–1943). The archive of Eeva Läärä (1929–1965) deserves to be mentioned as a significant personal archive.

The National Archives have material collections known as Inkerin arkisto I and II, which consist of the documents, photographs and newspaper clippings of Ingrian associations. The collection includes archived materials from Inkerin Liitto, the interim administrative committee of Ingria and the archives of Juuso Mustonen, Kaapre Tynni and Leo Yllö. In addition, the collection includes documents from the administrative committees of western Ingria and northern Ingria. The administrative committee of West Ingria did not believe that Ingria would be incorporated into Finland, advocating autonomy instead. The administrative committee of North Ingria, on the other hand, was the interim refugee government of North Ingria operating in Finland from 1919 to 1921.

Implementing parties

  • Inkeriläisten sivistyssäätiö
  • The National Archives of Finland
  • The Finnish Literature Society (SKS)

Steering group

  • Outi Hupaniittu, Archives Director (SKS), Chair of the steering group
  • Tero Kekki (Inkeriläisten sivistyssäätiö sr), Deputy Chair
  • Antti Kokkinen (Inkeriläisten sivistyssäätiö sr), Deputy Chair
  • Maiju Putkonen, Senior Archivist (SKS), Project Manager
  • Kenth Sjöblom, Senior Research Officer (The National Archives of Finland)

Funding

  • The respective shares of the partners

For further information, please contact