Accessing the archives for the first time

Accessing the archives for the first time

The tasks of the National Archives

National Archives branches and locations

How can I obtain information concerning documents preserved by the National Archives?

Where can I find the records I am looking for?

How to use the records

Do I have to pay for using the archives/records?

Do I need to book an appointment in advance?

Are there any restrictions on accessing the records?

Are copies of documents available?

May I photograph documents?

What records/services can I access from my home computer?

Where can I get more information?


The tasks of the National Archives

We preserve records belonging to the national cultural heritage and make them available for researchers and other interested parties. You may study records on-site in our reading rooms, or order copies and facsimiles of documents, or certificates based on them for a fee.

We guide and train public administrative organizations to take care of their records management in order to ensure that records belonging to the cultural heritage created today are preserved for future generations.

For more details about our services, see the Services-page.

National Archives branches and locations

The National Archives is located in nine cities: Helsinki, Hämeenlinna, Inari, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Mikkeli, Oulu, Turku and Vaasa. Each branch preserves official and private archives from their local area. For contact information of the National Archives Service, click here.

How can I obtain information concerning documents preserved by the National Archives?

For basic information about the kind of records kept by us and their time span, see the Records-page.

The Portti user service includes basic details of different records of the National Archives, and their use.

In the Astia online service, you can look up records and order them to a reading room. The service obtains its data from the Vakka archives database which contains information about the archives and collections stored by the National Archives. For example, Vakka provides information about the quantity and time period of the records, and the names of the document groups (i.e. series) in the databases. Furthermore, you may use the description data in the Vakka database in order to obtain more extensive information about the information content of records and the relationship between them.

Aarre archival database provides registers and descriptive information about archival material of the Finnish Defence administration.

All branches of the National Archives also have printed archive directories concerning the archives they keep. You may also contact the Registrar (kirjaamo[@]arkisto.fi) of the National Archives in order to find the records you are looking for.

Where can I find the records I am looking for?

Permanently preserved records of State local and regional administrative authorities are transferred to the branch of the National Archives located in the area where the authority has been operating. Archives of the central State administrative authorities are preserved in Helsinki. For geographic information about where the records of different areas are held, see the list of our branches.

The archival storage location of private archives is determined by the preference of the submitting party. Usually, archives are handed over to the National Archives branch located in the area where a society or company has operated or a private person or family has lived and had an influence on. Archives of central organizations or societies with nationwide operations are preserved in Helsinki.

The archives of ceded Finnish areas are stored in Mikkeli. The archives of the Petsamo region are kept in Oulu. The Sámi Archives in Inari support and promote research related to Sámi people.

You may use our Vakka and Aarre archival databases to find out where records are kept. The unit keeping the records you are looking for is specified in the archives-level data.

How to use the records

Original documents preserved by the National Archives are viewed on-site in the reading room of the unit preserving these documents. If you are unable to visit the unit in question, you may order the documents to another branch of the National Archives. There is no home loan of documents.

You may also place loan orders for microfilms from our collection to local libraries with equipment for viewing them. There is no home loan of microfilms.

Documents preserved by the National Archives are digitized and made available in the Digital Archives for customers. According to Finnish legislation concerning the protection of privacy, records which are less than 125 years old and contain personal data may only be accessed at the branches of the National Archives. So far, only a fraction of all records has been digitised.

Do I have to pay for using the archives/records?

Using documents on-site in reading rooms and taking notes of your own do not involve any fees. Accessing the search databases and the Digital Archives of the National Archives is also free of charge.

If you want to obtain document copies, or printouts of documents in the Digital Archives, the copies or printouts are subject to a fee set out in our price list.

General counseling and guidance on using the databases, for example, are also free of charge. Fees apply for reports and data searches conducted upon an order placed by the customer. For information about the enquiry services of the National Archives, see the Enquiry services -section.

Do I need to book an appointment in advance?

You do not need to book an appointment in advance to visit the archives. When planning your visit, you should observe the procedures for ordering of records, particularly if you would like to view records during your visit. For information about opening hours, ordering procedures and order delivery times, see our Contact -page. You may also ask about the procedures in advance by phoning the banch directly or emailing the Registrar (kirjaamo[@]arkisto.fi).

You may also book microfilm reading equipment in advance.

Are there any restrictions on accessing the records?

Anyone may come and view the documents. The vast majority of records preserved by the National Archives are freely available in the reading rooms. Access restrictions set out in the privacy and personal data legislation, special legislation or handover agreements relating to private archives may impose restrictions on access to documents. The use of documents in poor condition may also be restricted.

If access to the material is restricted due to applicable legislation or a handover agreement, you will have to submit an access permit application and specify the purpose of access.

Are copies of documents available?

You may order copies of documents for a fee. Copying, however, requires that the document will not be damaged when it is copied. Staff will provide the copies. For copying fees, see the price list.

Applicable legislation may restrict document copying, and you may have to submit an access permit application to obtain copies. For basic details about access restrictions and their impact on obtaining copies, see the document access restrictions (available only in Finnish).

May I photograph documents?

You may use your own camera to photograph documents which do not have any access restrictions. Flash photography is not permitted. The condition or the shape of the document may also restrict photographing it.

Photographing documents does not require separate permission, but always before you photograph a document, you must notify the reading room staff of your intention to photograph documents. When you have notified the staff, they will find out whether you are allowed to photograph the documents.

What records/services can I access from my home computer?

Using your home computer, you can access the Astia online service for freely looking up information on the records of the National Archives . In the service, you can also order records, do inter-library loans and issue orders for reports and facsimiles. Using these services requires that you register to use the service. Upon registration, you can verify your identity with online bank codes, for example.

The collection databases Vakka and Aarre are freely available online. The databases comprise index data and registers of the archives and collections kept by the National Archives. For reasons of data protection, only restricted index data of the archives of private persons are shown.

You may use your home computer to view digitized documents in the Digital Archive, excluding such digitized documents which are less than 125 years old and contain personal information. Such documents may only be accessed at the branches of the National Archives.

On the website of the National Archives, you may also find out more about our exhibitions (only in Finnish) and various directories.

Where can I get more information?

Use the Search function of the website to look up information. For information about the services of the National Archives, see the Services -pages or the pages intended for researchers and genealogists, providing them with information and guidance.

You may also contact the customer service of the units of the National Archives by phone or email. For contact information, see the Contact -section.

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