Finnish Family History Research: Where to Start

April 15, 2019  - by 

Are you looking for your ancestors from Finland? Maybe you don’t know where to start. The good news? There are many online databases and tools to help you. A good place to start is on FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch Record Hints Make It Easy

Record Hints are the easiest way to start your research. Some of your Finnish ancestors may have records hints, and you don’t even know it! Here’s how to get started. 

  1. Open a web browser and navigate to FamilySearch.org. In the top menu, click Family Tree, and find a Finnish ancestor or family. Using the FamilySearch fan chart view, you can easily see where your ancestors are from. 
  2. Select an ancestor’s name to see information about him or her. From there, click again to bring up the person’s details page. Find the heading Research Help to see if there is a record hint.  
    1. If there is a hint, click the hint, and then open it by clicking Attach
    2. Check the content to see if the names, places, and dates match the information on the person’s details page.  
    3. If they match, then click Compare, and finish the process.  

If there are no record hints, you should check available databases on FamilySearch.org. If that fails, search the parish records. You can find out if digital copies of the Finnish parish records are available by doing a search in the FamilySearch catalog. Many hints come from these records. As you look at the records, you may learn new information about your ancestor or his or her family. When using these records, keep in mind that the indexed names or relationships might not be correct. When in doubt, check the digital copies of the original parish records to verify the information.  

Finding Your Family through their Finnish Parish

A church in finland.

To find your ancestor in the church records of Finland, you will need to know what parish, or district, they lived in. Often, you can identify the parish from the person’s details page (check, for example, the place of birth). If you see three named locations, they usually refer to the parish, county, and country. A fourth named location might be the name of a farm. You can use the FamilySearch wiki for Finland genealogy to identify parish names.  

Strategies to Find Finnish Church Records

To learn more about Finnish record types, read Types of Finnish Ancestry Records.

Start by looking up a birth, marriage, or death entry. Use the place of residence to look up the ancestor in a communion or preconfirmation record.

Search every available communion or preconfirmation record. Verify all the birth, marriage, or death information in the birth, marriage, or death records. If your ancestor moved, use the moving-in and moving-out records to follow your ancestor (or family) from one parish record collection to another.  

a woman and her granddaughter look at their finnish heritage.

Keep in mind that most parish records were written in Swedish before about 1880. After that, the records were often written in Finnish. If you need help with translation, you can get help with both languages or get advice for strategy at the Nordic Countries Group on the FamilySearch Community page

Only 10 or 15 years ago, the process of finding your ancestors from Finland would have been significantly harder. With a collaborative family tree, record hints, and searchable databases, you can find new information much more quickly. Even when you need to look through record images, you can do it from home with online support from people with more experience. Have fun discovering your ancestors from Finland! 

Finding Your Finnish Ancestors

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