Finland Emigration and Immigration

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How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

  • 1874-1939 Emigrantlistor, 1874-1939, at FamilySearch Catalog; images only, Index and emigration lists of persons from Sweden and Finland who emigrated via the port of Malmö.

Additional online sources unique to each country of destination are listed below.

Institute of Migration/Emigrant Register[edit | edit source]

Siirtolaisuusinstituutti
Eerikinkatu 34
20100 Turku
FINLAND
Phone no.: Emigrant Register: 011-358-2-284-0471
Fax: 011-358-2-233 3460


The Library of the Migration Institute has more than 8,000 cataloged publications related to migration and ethnicity. In addition to books, the collections include periodicals published by expatriate Finns around the world, periodicals on migration or migration in general, and a large number of small prints. The library also has fiction and genealogy publications written by Finns abroad. An increasing proportion of new material deals with immigration.

The library serves as a source of information for the Institute's own researchers and assists in obtaining information on the institute's various activities. The library is also open to outsiders and the IT specialist guides you in information retrieval if necessary.

Finding the Town of Origin in Finland[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Finland, see Finland Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

Finland Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country. (See Immigration into Finland.)
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or coming into (immigrating) a country. For Finland, emigration information is usually found in passport records and passenger lists. The information in these records generally includes the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, and destinations and their places of origin.

Records of Finnish Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to immigration records for major destination countries below.

Australia[edit | edit source]

Australia Online Sources[edit | edit source]

  • Includes Database of Australian Finns (3,800 records)
This database contains information on Finns who lived in Australia before the Second World War. It is based on a file compiled by Olavi Koivukangas, Director of the Migration Institute, for his research on Australian Finns in Australia. It also includes some information extracted from Finnish passport and passenger lists.

Australia Background[edit | edit source]

  • The first group of Finnish immigrants who arrived in Australia came to work in the gold mines of Victoria in the 1850s.
  • Many Finnish immigrants began arriving in Australia between 1947 and 1971. When these new immigrants came to Australia, they were taken to refugee camps and given free room and board until the head of the family was assigned his first job. The largest and best-known of these camps was Bonegilla. Most of these Finns began their new lives in Bonegilla during this period.
  • Finns were particularly attracted by the income from the sugar cane fields and mining in Mount Isa, in north Queensland. As a result, Mount Isa has one of the largest Finnish communities in Australia.[1]

Canada[edit | edit source]

Canada Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Canada Background[edit | edit source]

  • It is difficult to determine the exact date of arrival of the first Finnish settler in Canada. However, Finns began to settle in large numbers in the 1880s.
  • During this period, several Finns who had arrived in the United States in the 1860s crossed the border into Canada.
  • By 1890, several communities of Canadians of Finnish origin had formed. The largest of these communities were Nanaimo (British Columbia), New Finland (Saskatchewan), Port Arthur, Toronto and Sault Ste-Marie (Ontario). Many of these early settlers were pious individuals and therefore churches of various denominations played an important role in cultural and social regrouping.
  • The first great wave of Finnish immigration to Canada occurred in the early 20th century, just before the First World War. Approximately one third of all Finnish immigrants to Canada arrived between 1900 and 1914.
  • A civil war broke out in Finland during World War I and one faction received support from Germany to defeat the other. As a result, the Government of Canada declared Finland an “enemy country”.
  • It was not until the end of the war that Finnish immigration to Canada resumed. During this period in the United States, quotas were put in place for immigration from Finland; as a result, many Finns choose to settle in Canada. The number of Finnish speaking Swedish also increased during this same period.
  • During World War II, Finland was once again declared an enemy country due to its participation with Germany in an attack on the Soviet Union. This declaration was repealed after the end of the war.
  • The last great wave of immigration from Finland to Canada took place between 1948 and 1961. Since then, Finnish immigration has declined significantly.[2]

Norway[edit | edit source]

Norway Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Finns also traveled through the ports of other countries, primarily Göteborg, Malmö, and Stockholm in Sweden, and Trondheim in Norway.

Norway Background[edit | edit source]

  • Many Finns have also moved to northern and east-central Norway. From Norway, many of them have immigrated to the United States.
  • However, some Finnish people emigrated through Norwegian ports.

Russia[edit | edit source]

Russia Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Russia Background[edit | edit source]

  • Russia, especially its former capital, St. Petersburg, was a destination for Finnish laborers, officials, and military personnel serving both the Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Finland. At the turn of the century, 36,000 Finns lived in Russia, and 83 percent of them were in the St. Petersburg region.

Sweden[edit | edit source]

Sweden Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Finns also traveled through the ports of other countries, primarily Göteborg, Malmö, and Stockholm in Sweden.

Sweden Background[edit | edit source]

  • Throughout the years, many Finns, including colonists, refugees, and laborers, have immigrated to Sweden. Many Swedes, especially during the Swedish Era, have emigrated to Finland as well. Some localities in northern and central Sweden have had a Finnish population for several centuries. Since World War II, about half a million Finns have moved to Sweden.
  • In the 1940s, 70,000 young Finnish children were evacuated from Finland. Most of them came to Sweden during the Winter War and the Continuation War, and around 20% remained after the war.
  • Helped by the Nordic Passport Union, Finnish immigration to Sweden was considerable during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • The city of Eskilstuna, Södermanland, is one of the most heavily populated Sweden Finnish cities of Sweden, due to migration from Finland, during the 1950s until the 1970s, due to Eskilstuna's large number of industries. In Eskilstuna, the Finnish-speaking minority have both a private school and only one magazine in Finnish. Some of the municipal administration is also available in Finnish. In the Finnish mindset, the term "Sweden Finns" (ruotsinsuomalaiset) is first and foremost directed at these immigrants and their offspring, who at the end of the 20th century numbered almost 200,000 first-generation immigrants, and about 250,000 second-generation immigrants. Of these some 250,000 are estimated to use Finnish in their daily lives, and 100,000 remain citizens of Finland.
  • People with Finnish heritage comprise a relatively large share of the population of Sweden. In addition to a smaller part of Sweden Finns historically residing in Sweden, there were about 426,000 people in Sweden (4.46% of the total population in 2012) who were either born in Finland or had at least one parent who was born in Finland.[3]

United States[edit | edit source]

United States Online Sources[edit | edit source]

United States Background[edit | edit source]

  • As early as 1638, Finns and Swedes colonized New Sweden, which was located around the Delaware River. Many of these Finns had been living in central Sweden, and their ancestors had left Finland during the 1500's.
  • From the 1820's on, long before the general wave of Finnish immigration to the United States, hundreds of Finns came to Alaska as representatives of the Russian Empire, making up about one-third of the Russian population there. Among them were the families of government officials, Lutheran clergymen, and many seamen. After 1867, many of these Finns became early settlers in California.
  • From the 1860's onward, an estimated 316,000 Finns, primarily from Ostrobothnia, immigrated to the United States. Most settled in Michigan, especially in the upper peninsula. Many Finns also settled in Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • From the 1860's onward, an estimated 316,000 Finns, primarily from Ostrobothnia, immigrated to the United States. Most settled in Michigan, especially in the upper peninsula. Many Finns also settled in Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California.

Immigration into Finland[edit | edit source]

For much more detail, read Immigration into Finland in Wikipedia

  • After World War I, about 30,000 Russian subjects immigrated to Finland, many of whom were Karelian or Finnish.
  • The Great Depression of the 1930s in the U.S. led to the emigration of many Finns from Canada. Many recent immigrants choose to leave for the United States or Finland instead of living in poverty in Canada. In addition, more than 2,000 Canadians of Finnish origin moved to Soviet Karelia between 1930 and 1935.
  • In World War II, Finland lost its eastern regions (Karelia) to the Soviet Union. Nearly half a million people were evacuated from the areas.
  • In 2018, 387,215 people in Finland were born in another country, representing 7% of the population. The 10 largest foreign born groups are (in order) from Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Iraq, Somalia, China, Thailand, Serbia, Vietnam and Turkey.
  • As of 2019, there were 423,494 people with a foreign background living in Finland (7.7% of the population), most of whom are from the former Soviet Union, Estonia, Somalia, Iraq and former Yugoslavia.[4]

Finnish Russians and Russian Finns[edit | edit source]

  • Russians in Finland or Russian Finns constitute a linguistic and ethnic minority in Finland. About 30,000 people have citizenship of the Russian Federation, and Russian is the mother language of about 70,000 people in Finland, which represents about 1.3% of the population.
  • The first migratory wave of Russians began in the early 18th century, when Finland was part of the Swedish Empire. About 40,000 Russian soldiers, civilian workers, and about 600 businessmen moved to the Grand Duchy of Finland, which became part of the Russian Empire in 1809. When Finland became independent in 1917, many soldiers returned to Russia. Many businessmen stayed.
  • During the Russian Revolution many aristocrats and officers fled to Finland as refugees. The biggest refugee wave was in 1922 when about 33,500 people came to Finland.
  • During the Kronstadt Rebellion (1921), about 1,600 officers fled to Finland.
  • Russian citizens who moved in these three waves are called "Old Russians", whose 3,000–5,000 descendants live in Finland today.
  • During World War II, there were about 69,700 Soviet prisoners of war in Finland, and 200–300 children were born to them and Finnish women.
  • A second major wave of immigration occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union. Many Russian guest workers came to Finland, working low-paying jobs.
  • In the 1990s, immigration to Finland grew, and a Russian-speaking population descended from Ingrian Finns immigrated to Finland. Ingrian Finns are the Finnish population of Ingria (now the central part of Leningrad Oblast in Russia, descending from Lutheran Finnish immigrants introduced into the area in the 17th century, when Finland and Ingria were both parts of the Swedish Empire.
  • In the 2000s, many nouveaux riches Russians have bought estates in Eastern Finland.[5]

Police Department Emigration Lists[edit | edit source]

These are specific registrations of persons emigrating to various countries, especially the United States of America listing names, ages, places of birth, destinations and dates of debarkation.

Port Emigration Lists[edit | edit source]

These list the persons name, age, place they resided at time for emigration, and when known, place of destination, and date of departure.

Finland Steamship Company Records[edit | edit source]

Lists include information on emigrant's age, port of departure and place of destination

Finnish Passport Lists[edit | edit source]

The Finnish passport lists are the primary source for obtaining the immigrants’ places of origin. The lists began around 1820 and are available on microfilm through 1920. The early lists are not as informative as the ones from the mid 1800's on. These lists record the passport recipients in chronological order and contain:

  • Names.
  • Occupations.
  • Home parishes.
  • Destination countries.
  • The number of children included in the passport.

Immigrants could receive a passport in any county. Many received them in the county from which they embarked, not from their home county.

Passport Lists in the Migration Register[edit | edit source]

As of 27 April 2021, 285,000 records from Passport lists have been added saved and indexed in the Migrant Register($) at Siirtolaisuusinstituutti (Migration Institute) Information on contents The passport list database is based on the passport lists of county governments and city registries from the late 19th century to 1920. This is an incomplete, continuing project. At this writing, there were more than 100,000 records still unsaved.

Moving Records (Muuttaneet/Muuttokirjat; Flyttningslängder/Flyttningsbetyg)[edit | edit source]

Moving records can help you trace a family as they moved around Finland. You can find moving records in several sources.

Communion Books[edit | edit source]


Ministers used the communion books to note individuals and families who moved into or out of the parish.

Moving Certificates[edit | edit source]

By the late 1700s some parishes began to issue moving certificates [muuttokirjat/flyttningsbetyg] to persons leaving the parish. These certificates identified the persons to their new minister and were chronologically archived in the new parish.

The certificates usually included the following information about a person:

  • Name
  • Birth date and birthplace
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Reading ability
  • Knowledge of religion
  • Worthiness to partake of the communion
  • Character reference
  • Vaccination information
  • Place where the person was registered for taxation

If a whole family moved, the certificate generally contained at least the name of each family member.

Arrival and Removal Records[edit | edit source]

In the 1800s parishes began using special arrival and removal records (sisään- ja ulosmuuttaneet; seurakuntaan ja seurakunnasta muuttaneet/in- och utflyttningslängder). These records, which are frequently essential to family history research, chronologically list the people who moved into or out of the parish.

The records give the following information about a person:

  • Name
  • Occupation
  • Parish moved to or from
  • Previous or subsequent residence in the parish. In more recent records, the residence is indicated by the page number in the communion book.
  • The records sometimes list:
  • Age or date of birth
  • Religious knowledge
  • Character reference
  • Gender

Wives and children may not be mentioned by name, only as numbers in a separate column.

The HisKi Project[edit | edit source]

The database includes indexes and extracts to many Finnish parish records. Records from additional parishes are added to the database as they become available. It includes christenings, marriages, burials, and moving records.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Many additional sources are listed in the FamilySearch catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Finnish Australians", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_Australians, 27 April 2021.
  2. "Finnish Genealogy and Family history", in Wikipedia, https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/fra/decouvrez/immigration/histoire-ethniques-culturels/Pages/finlandais.aspx, 27 Apri 2021.
  3. '"Sweden Finns", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweden_Finns, accessed 27 April 2021.
  4. "Finland: Demographics", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finland#Demographics, accessed 27 April 2021.
  5. "Russians in Finland", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russians_in_Finland, accessed 527 April 2021.