Finland Military Records
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Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Most young men in Finland were required to serve in or register for military service at various times. Evidence that an ancestor served may be found in family records, biographies, censuses, probate records, civil registration, or church records.
Finland has had a standing army since the sixteenth century. Military records give information about a soldier’s military career, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. In addition, these records usually include information about his age, region of birth, residence, enlistment and discharge dates, and physical description. However, many military records in Finland provide very few details about individuals other than officers.
The military records you may find include:
- Muster rolls.
- Lists of officers.
- Pay records.
- Pension records.
- Naval records.
The Family History Library’s main collection of Finnish military records is from the Swedish Era (before 1809), when Finland was part of the Swedish realm. The military records for the periods of Finnish autonomy and independence are available only through the Military Archives of Finland. See Finland Archives and Libraries for the address.
To determine to which company and regiment a soldier in a given parish belonged during the Swedish Era, you can use a map found in the following book:
- Jutikkala, Eino. Suomen historian kartasto: Atlas of Finnish History. Porvoo: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö (WSOY), 1949. (FHL book 948.97 E3j; film 157159) Pages 42–43 contain the map.
Military Records [Sotilasasiakirjat/Militära Handlingar]
Military records establish individual identity and provide parentage and other relationships. These records are especially valuable in determining the place of birth or origin of a soldier ancestor. They include soldiers of Swedish, Baltic, German and Russian origin whose posterity stayed in Finland. Military service often resulted in name changes and these records can often resolve research problems involving change of patronymic to soldier surname.
These records include military service records, conscription registers, mercenary lists. The earliest military records exist for the Swedish military in 1565. After 1809 Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire with an independent military until 1899. After independence in 1917 the Finns had their own military.
Content varies, depending on the specific type of record. There are muster rolls, lists of officers, pay records, pension records, and naval records. These generally provide the name of the soldier or officer, age, date and place of birth, names of parents or next of kin or guardian (if parents are deceased), occupation, residence, level of education, physical description, name of regiment, etc. Records are housed at the Military Archives [Sota-arkisto] in Helsinki.
For information about the Finnish military and the Finnish regimental muster rolls that were kept during the Swedish period, search the FamilySearch Catalog under:
FINLAND - MILITARY RECORDS
In the catalog, the Finnish regiments are listed by their Swedish names. For example, the catalog lists the Viipuri County Infantry Regiment as Sverige Försvarsdepartamentet (Viborgs läns Infanteriregiment).
You can find other military records in the New Collection of Accounts for each county (see Finland Public Records for more information).