Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Historical archives of Finnish missions abroad expand

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The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has expanded and improved its online historical archive. The improved online service was launched on 22 November.

As part of its centenary celebration in March 2018, the Foreign Ministry published reports from the Finnish diplomatic missions abroad dating from before 1927. The Ministry has now expanded its digitised service to include reports from the missions until 1945, when the Second World War ended.

At the same time, the user functions of the online archive have been improved to enable users to browse the records as single pages or as PDF-documents covering one-year periods. The PDF-format enables users to run limited searches based on key words in the entire material.

The expanded online archive contains about 14,000 reports. As one report can contain multiple pages, the number of pages available in the online service amounts to more than 100,000. The service is open to all and free of charge.

The historical archive is available at https://um.fi/opendata/raporttiarkisto/1918/

Contents of the reports

Among the materials that diplomats produced about their host countries, the mission reports were the most important. With the help of the reports, foreign policy leaders in Finland were able to stay informed about world events, domestic and foreign policies of the host countries and their economic situation. The archived material also includes discussion notes and press reviews from the missions.

For example, the Finnish envoy to Berlin reported on the events of the host country in the 1930s. In addition, users of the online archives can now investigate how Finland’s ambassadors to France, Poland and Denmark perceived the developments in neighbouring Germany.

How did the Finnish missions in London, Moscow and Washington view the same events? The answers lie in the reports now available in the online service.  

The first reports available in the archive derive from Finland’s unofficial diplomatic mission in London, dating back to January 1918.

Missions to the Nordic Countries and Germany were set up during 1918. After the First World War, Finland established diplomatic relations with the victorious powers. Finland’s diplomatic network expanded gradually both in terms of the number of missions and its coverage. On the eve of the Second World War, Finland had about twenty missions in Europe as well as missions in Washington, Buenos Aires and Tokyo.

The most recent material to be published now includes descriptions of post-war atmosphere in different parts of the world. The missions also submitted information to Helsinki by letter, telegram and informal correspondence between members of the old-boy network. These are not included in the online service, but they, together with mission reports from 1945 onwards, are available for research in the Foreign Ministry archives. Based on the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, diplomatic mission reports and the Ministry's other archive material from before 1995 are currently available to the public.

Inquiries about the project: Jyrki Paloposki, Director, Unit for Information and Service Management, tel. +358 295 350 517
Inquiries about the reports and archives: Jussi Pekkarinen, Researcher, tel. +358 295 351 268

The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.

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