Finland Church Census and Pre-Confirmation Books, 1657-1915
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Finland Church Census and Pre-Confirmation Books, 1657-1915
33,342,964 records
Collection of church census books (<i>rippikirjat</i>) and pre-confirmation books (<i>lastenkirjat</i>) kept by the Lutheran Church in Finland. As the Lutheran Church was the state religion for hundreds of years, church records essentially cover the entire population of Finland, and are the most important records used in Finnish genealogical research.<br><br>Church censuses are also known as “communion books”, “confirmation books”, “household examinations”, and “clerical surveys”. These records registered the inhabitants of each parish according to village, farm, and household (family group). A village consisted of a grouping of farms; often several families lived on one farm. In cities these records were organized according to quarter or street, rather than village. Sometimes single people and non-landowners were recorded at the end of a book in an alphabetical list. <br><br>The purpose of the church census was to record the results of each parishioner’s yearly catechism exam. Census books usually covered 5 or 10-year time-periods. For this reason, record dates in this collection are presented as year ranges. Information recorded in the census may include: name of each member of the household (including servants and farmhands), relationship to head of house, birth date, birthplace, and other information regarding catechism, communion, baptism, vaccination, or occupation. Information regarding marriage, death, or when and where a family moved was also sometimes recorded. Standardized forms were used as of 1780, thus there is some variation in the information recorded in earlier years.<br><br>Note: Households often consisted of multi-generational family groups, such as parents with their adult children, their children’s spouses, and their grandchildren. Because of the way these types of families are listed in the records, incorrect parent-child and spouse relationships may have been inferred in the index. In addition, early records did not always list relationships. Please check the original record image to verify family.<br><br>Pre-confirmation books are also known as “children’s books” and “pre-communion books”. These records are primarily found in eastern Finland parishes. They list the names of children who had not yet been confirmed or had not yet received their first communion. Generally, this was children younger than about age 14 to 16.<br><br>Pre-confirmation records are organized similarly to church census records. Children are listed by residence, and with their parents. Once a child was confirmed, they were no longer recorded in the pre-confirmation book, but was instead listed with the rest of the family in the census.<br><br>Finland church records generally begin in 1686—the date a royal decree mandated that the church keep records. However, at the time of the decree some parishes had already been keeping records for several decades. Hence, there are some records in this collection that date as early as 1657.<br><br>Finland was part of Sweden until 1809, and it was not until 1863 that Finnish joined Swedish as an official language of the country. Thus, church census records and pre-confirmation records were written in Swedish up until the mid- to late 1800s.<br><br>This collection is provided in partnership with the National Archives Service of Finland (<i>Arkistolaitos</i>).
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Johan Ludvig RunebergUusimaa, Finland
The national poet of Finland and the author of the lyrics to Vårt land (Our Land) — that became the Finnish National Anthem.