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Kansallisarkisto, Helsinki

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 13 years, 8 months ago

Date of tip: July 2005

Source: Ville Jalovaara, ville.jalovaara@helsinki.fi  



Location: Rauhankatu 17, FIN-00171 Helsinki, Finland


Telephone: 358 9 228 521 


How to get there: The impressive looking National Archives building is located in the centre of the Finnish capital. It is next to the main campus of the University of Helsinki and one block away from white Evangelical Lutheran cathedral overlooking the city. A public entrance to the archives is from the new side, which is next to the old main building. The old section dates back to the year 1890 and it really looks like a classic archive. It is really worth visiting, even as a tourist, if you come to Helsinki.


Language: Most documents are in Finnish. In documents dating back to the Middle Ages language is often Latin. Many official state documents written before Finnish independence in year 1917 are in Swedish or Russian. 


Getting started: The National Archives is easy to use. First write your name in the book next to the main entrance and than leave your bags in the lockers. No bags or outdoor clothing are allowed in to the research rooms. You don’t need an ID or to fill in forms to use the archives.  From the main information desk located between the old and the new research room you can get guidance to find what you are looking for. All the catalogues are also in this room. The green main catalogues are the best place to start.   


Opening Hours: 9am-8pm (Monday-Friday) 9am-3pm (Saturday). During summer: (June − August) 9am-6pm (Monday-Friday) closed on Saturday. 


General working conditions: There are two research rooms and a separate microfilm reading room in the archives. You must book a time to use a microfilm reader. Many older documents are available only as microfilms. 


Consultation: For every file you want to see you must fill an individual ordering from. Forms are very simple and are available in Finnish and Swedish. You can have only six files at your disposal at one time. There is no daily limit but getting new files delivered once you have returned one you have already used can take some time. To avoid confusion you are only allowed to keep one file open at your desk. Last orders will have to be made before 14.30. On Saturdays no new files are delivered. There is a special place where you will have to return used files. 


Policy on technology: You are free to use laptops. With permission from the main information desk, digital cameras (without flash) are also allowed. There are a few collections that you are not allowed to photograph.  


Photocopy policy: To be able to get photocopies you will need to ask for permission from the main information desk to go to the photocopying office with your file. Permission is needed because the office is in the main hall outside the research rooms. Once in the office, ask for a clerk to take the copies. The price for one A4 copy is 55 cents.  


Particularities: There is a good cafeteria called Café Hausen in the new building. Unicafe (http://www.unicafe.fi/) students’ restaurants are available in the nearby campus area. Although without an active membership card of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki you can’t get reduced prices from these restaurants, food is still cheaper than in normal restaurants.


How to apply for classified files: The National Archives preserves important private collections. For example, papers of many former Finnish politicians, cultural figures and bishops are there. To be able to use some of these archives you will have to apply for permission — by a written form — from the Director of the National Archives. If you are not a postgraduate researcher, you’ll need a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. In some cases you may have to contact a private person, who has been assigned to be an overseer of a certain archive and ask for permission. This may take time. If you are coming from abroad and plan to use one of the private collections, it is advisable to contact the archive well in advance and ask if permission is needed. 


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: National Archives telephone exchange: 358 9 228 521 


Etc: The staff of the National Archives information service in Helsinki are helpful and friendly. I have always enjoyed working in there. Ask for any advice if you need to. There is an archive database called “arkistotietokanta” on the internet:


This database covers most of collections in the Finnish National Archives system. Although take a note that not all the material you can find from “arkistotietokanta” is located in Helsinki.  There are seven provincial archives in different parts of the country. One the most important political archives for a Cold War researcher in Finland — the Archives of the President of the Republic Urho Kekkonen — is not in the National Archives. “Urho Kekkosen arkisto” is in the president’s former estate at Orimattila. 


Link for the UKK-archive: http://www.kolumbus.fi/ukk-arkisto/ 


Places to Stay: There is variety of good places to stay in Helsinki from a Stadium Hostel to reasonably priced hotels.     

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