FI / / EN

Människor i Övermark kby ca 1910 (ID 423)

Year of induction: 2021

Custodian: The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS)

The oldest folkloristic, ethnographic and linguistic collections from 1874–1939 in the archives of the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland

The oldest folkloristic, ethnographic and linguistic collections in the SLS archives represent the earliest collection of folklore conducted by the SLS from its foundation in 1885 in accordance with the society’s purpose. The oldest collections also include Svenska landsmålsföreningen’s collections from between 1874 and 1899, which were created to add to the knowledge of the rural Swedish dialects in Finland and were donated to the SLS.

This early material from 1874–1939 constitutes a total of 544 collections coded as SLS 1–SLS 544 in the tradition and language collection in the SLS archives. 1937 was a year of transition when new collection methods were introduced, but they did not become visible in the materials until 1939.


The material provides a chronological and comprehensive overview of the folk culture of the Swedish-speaking population along the coast in the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century. The material is completely authentic and preserves a cultural heritage that would otherwise have been lost.  The collection work within the SLS has been continuous and systematic from the start. The material as a whole provides unique insights into the folk culture of the Swedish-speaking parts of Finland. The material constitutes the most comprehensive collection of older Swedish-speaking tradition documented in Finland and is thereby a unique and central source for scientific research.


The oldest collections describe the oral and material folk culture that was declining in the late 1800s. The collections show that the Swedish-speaking peasantry along the coast had a folk culture and folklore corresponding to those of the Finnish-speaking population, which have been documented by the Finnish Literature Society. The material also includes documentations of traditions and language in the Swedish-speaking areas of Estonia, a total of 57 collections.


The collection work was carried out both by scholars and by persons with scientific competence. Contemporary and future prominent figures in the fields of folk culture studies and linguistics, such as Otto Andersson, Yngvar Heikel, Axel Olof Freudenthal, Greta Dahlström and Alfhild Adolfsson, took part in the collection work.

The SLS has published most of the folkloristic material in the printed work Finlands svenska folkdiktning (1917–1975) which is also available as a digital copy. Some of the material has been published in the national search service Finna.