Finland Letter Writing Guide

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This guide is for researchers who do not speak Finnish but must write to Finland for genealogical records. It includes a form letter you could use in requesting genealogical records from a Finnish parish.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

This guide is for researchers who do not speak Finnish but must write to Finland for genealogical records. It includes a form letter you could use in requesting genealogical records from a Finnish parish.

The best sources of genealogical information in Finland are the church records kept by the local parishes. The Family History Library has microfilm or microfiche copies of these records prior to 1860 for all of Finland and to 1900 for much of Finland. Use the FamilySearch Catalog to determine what records are available through the library and the Family History Centers. If records are available from the library, it is usually faster and more productive to search these first. The Wiki articles [Finland|Finland]] explains how to research records at the library or at Family History Centers.

The church records available through the Family History Library generally correspond to the holdings of church records in the Finnish state and provincial archives. The form letter included with this guide is primarily intended for writing to parish offices for records not available at the Family History Library or the Finnish archives. If you write to a parish office that has already forwarded the needed records to an archive, the parish generally sends your letter to the appropriate archives or advises you to do so.

Should you need to write to a Finnish archive for information not available at the Family History Library or at a parish office, you may write in English or obtain the services of a private researcher to help you write a letter in Finnish.

Before you write[edit | edit source]

Before you write a letter to Finland to obtain family history information, you should do two things:

Determine exactly where your ancestor was born, was married, died, or resided. Because most genealogical sources were recorded locally, you will need to know the specific locality where your ancestor was born, was married, died, or resided for a given time. See the library's publication Tracing Immigrant Origins (34111) for help in finding home towns.

Determine where records from your ancestor's home parish are stored today. When you have a locality name, use a gazetteer to determine whether the name is a farm, village, parish, district, or county and to determine which parish serves your ancestor’s locality. Parish record books for which the last date is older than 90 years are generally sent to provincial archives.

Research By Mail[edit | edit source]

Church records are obtained from parishes. It is possible to write to Finland in English; however, the response might be more favorable if written in either Finnish or Swedish, the languages of the country. This guide explains the procedure for writing to:

A Finnish-speaking parish

A Swedish-speaking parish

The Archive of Discontinued Parishes (for the area ceded to the USSR in 1944)

You should make a copy of your letter for your own records prior to sending it. Make sure to mark your envelope airmail.

How to Find Finnish Addresses[edit | edit source]

For a list of the Lutheran and Orthodox parishes in Finland and their addresses, see:

Kunta- ja rekisterinpitäjäluettelo/Förteckning över kommuner och registerförare (Register of the Parishes and Record Keepers). Helsinki: Väestörekisterikeskus, 1981. (FHL book 948.97 E4k.)

Addresses for the Evangelical-Lutheran Churches in Finland can also be found on the Internet:

A list of archives in Finland and their addresses can be found in Finland Archives and Libraries.

How to Send Payments[edit | edit source]

Do not send money with the initial request. After receiving a response, send a check in Finnish currency for the amount requested by the parish. Checks in foreign currencies can generally be obtained from a local branch of a large international bank. Have the check made payable to the parish as listed on the return correspondence (parish name + seurakunta [Finnish] or församling [Swedish]).

Another way to send money to Europe from North America is to telephone Ruesch International Financial Services at 1-800-424-2923. Ask for an international bank draft for the desired amount in Finnish markkas. There is a $3.00 service charge. Ruesch will give you a transaction number to write on your payment check. Send the payment to:

Ruesch International Financial Services

700 11th St. NW

Washington, DC 20001-4507

Upon receipt of your payment, Ruesch will promptly send you a foreign currency draft (check) that you can mail to Finland.

What to Expect[edit | edit source]

It may take six months or longer for you to receive a reply to your request for information. Airmail improves the response time. The results of writing to parish offices can vary greatly. You may get a great deal of information, or you may get no answer at all. Some pastors are willing to do considerable research while others may be unable to provide information.

When you receive a reply, send the requested payment and a note of thanks or acknowledgment. If you need to request further information, refer to your earlier letters and their return letters by date. If they have assigned you a reference number, include that number as well.

Use Finnish-English or Swedish-English dictionaries to help you understand the reply. Sometimes you can hire accredited genealogists to translate for you. The Family History Library also has published genealogical word lists in Finnish (35815) and Swedish (31028), which may be helpful.

If you do not receive an answer, write again and include a copy of your first letter.

Other Options[edit | edit source]

Because some information is not easily obtained by writing directly to a pastor, you may need to hire a private researcher. The Family History Library provides a list of qualified researchers in its publication Accredited Genealogists—International (32750).

The Genealogical Society of Finland provides addresses of local genealogical societies and can also refer you to local professional researchers:

Suomen Sukututkimusseura/Genealogiska

Samfundet i Finland

Liisankatu 16 A

00170 Helsinki


Telephone: 011-358-9-278-1188

Fax: 011-358-9-278-1199

A list of local genealogical societies in Finland can also be found on the Internet at:

Swedish-speaking Parishes[edit | edit source]

If you correspond with any of the parishes listed below, you should use the Swedish form letter rather than the Finnish form letter (see attached sample form letters). The Finnish names of the parishes are also listed so you can find them in the FamilySearch Catalog. In addition to these parishes, all the parishes in Ahvenanmaa (Åland) County use Swedish. For information from larger cities like Helsinki, Turku, and Vaasa, you can write letters in either language.


Finnish Name of Parish
Borgå Porvoo
Ekenäs Tammisaari
Esse Ähtävä
Garmlakarleby Kokkola
Grankulla Kauniainen
Hangö Hanko
Hitis Hiittinen
Houtskär Houtskari
Ingå Inkoo
Jakobstad Pietarsaari
Jeppo Jepua
Karis Karjaa
Karleby Kaarlela
Kimito Kemiö
Korpo Korppoo
Korsholm Mustasaari
Kristinestad Kristiinankaupunki
Kronoby Kruunupyy
Kvevlaks Koivulahti
Kyrkslätt Kirkkonummi
Lappträsk Lapinjärvi
Larsmo Luoto
Lovisa Loviisa
Malaks Maalahti
Maksmo Maksamaa
Nagu Nauvo
Nedervetil Alaveteli
Nykarleby Uusikaarlepyy
Närpes Närpiö
Oravais Oravainen
Pargas Parainen
Pedersöre Pietarsaaren maalaiskunta
Pernå Pernaja
Petalaks Petolahti
Pojo Pohja
Pörtom Pirttikylä
Replot Raippaluoto
Sibbo Sipoo
Sideby Siipyy
Sjundeå Siuntio
Solf Sulva
Tenala Tenhola
Terjärv Teerijärvi
Vörå Vöyri
Övermark Ylimarkku

Archive of Discontinued Parishes[edit | edit source]

After World War II, Finland ceded some of its land to the Soviet Union. The areas ceded were the largest and easternmost part of Viipuri County and Petsamo and Salla in the northeast. The parishes located in these areas were discontinued. Their records are now kept in the provincial archive of Mikkeli. The holdings for these parishes in this archive extend until 1949, except for a few parishes’ records, which were destroyed or left behind during the war. You can write to this archive if you are seeking information for any of the parishes listed below. Address the envelope to:

Lakkautettujen seurakuntien keskusarkisto
PL 2
SF-50501 Mikkeli

Make the check payable to: Lakkautettujen seurakuntien keskusarkisto

The parishes listed below are discontinued:

Antrea Petsamo
Harlu Pyhäjärvi*
Heinjoki Pälkjärvi
Hiitola Rautu
vIhantala Ruskeala
Impilahti Räisälä
Inkerin pakolais-seurakunta Sakkola-Salmi
Jaakkima Seiskari
Johannes Soanlahti
Jääski Sortavala (city)
Kanneljärvi Sortavalan maalaiskunta
Kaukola Suojärvi
Kirvu Suursaari
Kivennapa Säkkijärvi
Koivisto Terijoki
Korpiselkä Tytärsaari
Korpiselkä Tytärsaari

Kuolemajärvi Uusikirkko*

Kurkijoki Vahviala
Käkisalmi (city) Valkjärvi
Käkisalmen maalaiskunta Viipuri (city)
Lavansaari Viipurin maalaiskunta
Lumivaara Vuoksela
Metsäpirtti Vuoksenranta
Muolaa Äyräpää

*There are other parishes elsewhere in Finland with the same name.

How to Write a Letter In Finnish[edit | edit source]

Printable Form Letters[edit | edit source]

  • A convenient printable form letter is provided here for writing to Finnish speaking parishes.
  • A convenient printable form letter is provided here for writing to Swedish speaking parishes.
  • You should copy the letter and fill in the appropriate blanks. A separate request form should be used when requesting detailed information on a spouse or child. Make sure you type or neatly print your letter and, when necessary, add any diacritical marks and special characters (such as å, ä, ö) with a pen.

Writing a Letter in English[edit | edit source]

If the form letter does not meet your needs, you may write in English. Your letter should include:

The name and address of the parish
Biographical information about your relative
A comment about payment
Your signature and the date
Your return address (including your country)
  • Be brief and simple. Do not ask for too much at one time.

Writing Dates[edit | edit source]

Write dates the European way (day-month-year as numerals). For example, for December 10, 1989, you would write 10/12/89.

Comments and Suggestions[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library welcomes additions and corrections that will improve future editions of this guide. Please send your suggestions to:

Publications Coordination

Family History Library

35 North West Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-3400