Documents on the history of Finland and Sweden in the RGADA

 Documents on the history of Finland and Sweden in the Russian State Archive of Ancient ActsRussian State Archive of Ancient Acts

Only a few collections of the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Drevnih Aktov, RGADA) are entirely dedicated to the history of Finland and Sweden. These include collections of local agencies or provincial offices and municipal magistrates of Old Finland *. The population of these territories was almost entirely Finnish. The peasants of those lands were Finnish-speaking but merchants living in cities spoke German and Swedish. Military bases with Russian soldiers also occur at the territory.

The documents of these collections were microfilmed in the first instance and transferred to the National Archives of Finland in 2009 under the agreement on the microfilming of documents on the history of Finland between the National Archives of Finland and the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (RGADA). Microfilmed documents are digitized and available to users through the Digital archives in the reading rooms of the National Archives of Finland.

Documents on Finnish history can be found in the collections of the Governing Senate. Prior to the formation of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809 and the joining of the territories of Old Finland in 1812 case management of the Vyborg province/governorate was performed in the Senate along with cases of other areas: Petersburg, Revel, and Riga. This complicates the study of the materials, and that is why the researcher needs to conduct a thematic search.

Starting from 1711, the year of the Senate foundation, Senate documents contain materials about the events of the Great Northern War on the territory of Finland. They provide information on the movements and the quartering of Russian troops in Finland, supplying them with food and fodder, relations with the local population, including the number of this population (number of households) in Vyborg (Viborg), Savonlinna (Nyslott), Priozersk (Kexholm), and Turku (Åbo), and the amounts of taxes paid by them. According to archive documents military activity was accompanied by organization of trade, including foreign trade with timber, tar, bread and other things. There are also documents on the repair and construction of the fortresses in Vyborg and Priozersk (Kexholm) with the plans and drawings.

The RGADA Senate collections are extensive and cover chronologically almost the entire 18th century. Documents for the later period are stored at the Russian State Historical Archives (Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv, RGIA).

RGADA has unique documents related to Finnish history. For example, the ambassadorial book of 1557 contains a record on the arrival of the Swedish Embassy to Russia, which mentions the Bishop of Turku (Åbo) master Mikael Agricola who is the great Finnish educator and the founder of literary Finnish.

The upper dating limit of the majority of RGADA documents is the end of the 18th century, but individual documents and collections are beyond these limits. For example, a collection of the former State Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire contains correspondence of 1814 - 1825 years of Chancellor N.P. Rumyantsev with the rector and professors of the University of Turku (Åbo) and Archbishop Tengström about the organization of the contest for the best essay on the campaigns of the Normans in the Baltic States, archeological excavations, the search for deposits of porcelain spar in Finland, the exchange of books, etc.

Some collections of personal provenance also contain information about Finland until the beginning of the last century.

M.R. Ryzhenkov, director of the archives


* Old Finland is the territories in Karelia ceded to Russia according to the Treaty of Nystad in 1721 which ended the Great Northern War and then the Treaty of Abo after the Russo-Swedish War of 1741-1743 (see also Vanhan Suomen arkistot. toim. Eljas Orrman, Jyrki Paaskoski, SKS 2012).


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