News of war and peace – Swedish-language newspapers published in Finland during the 1940s now publicly available online
The National Library of Finland has digitised Swedish-language newspapers up to the end of the 1940s and made them publicly available online at digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi. During this three-year project, the National Library of Finland will digitise all Swedish-language newspapers published in Finland. Once the project is finished in 2023, there will be almost six million pages of Swedish-language newspapers available to readers in digital form. The project is supported by eight Finland-Swedish funds and foundations. Copyright matters were arranged with the copyright organisation Kopiosto.
The 1940s, an era of war and peace
In the 1940s, Finland was a country with a population of four million that underwent historically significant events. Event the smallest local newspapers would talk about the key events of the war and the peace negotiations.
The newspapers open a window into how post-war Finland was progressing into a welfare state. Although food rationing lasted into the 1950s, the long-term economic growth and post-war reconstruction created a solid foundation for the development of the society. The baby boomers were born after the war, and the 1940s introduced important improvements for families, such as the child allowance system. The decade also saw employment-related legislative developments, such as the Collective Agreements Act. After the rough war years, the newspapers show an increase in the supply and demand for culture in the Finnish society.
“The contents of the Swedish-language newspapers in Finland were, in some respects, clearly different from the Finnish-language newspapers of the 1940s. They had closer relations with Sweden, and the censorship of the Swedish-language press seems to have been more lenient. It is a very welcome change that the use of this material is made easier,” says history professor Henrik Meinander from the University of Helsinki.
Fast newspaper digitisation was enabled by substantial funding from foundations
“The digitisation process of Swedish-language newspapers is our biggest cooperation project so far. The project will result in a vast and integrated body of material that will be of great importance to researchers. I’m sure that the publicly available newspapers and magazines from the 1940s will also bring joy to genealogists and history enthusiasts,” says Johanna Lilja, Director of Services of the National Library of Finland.
Once the three-year project is finished in 2023, there will be almost six million pages of Swedish-language newspapers available to readers in digital form. The database will be opened in cooperation between the National Library of Finland, the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS), Ålands landskapsarkiv, Pressarkivföreningen, and Kopiosto.
“It’s essential to make Swedish-language wartime newspapers publicly available to researchers and citizens online and bring them into our collective memory. The digitisation project is right on schedule. Digitised material from the 1950s will be available for use at legal deposit libraries and partnership archives as the digitisation process goes on,” says Archive Manager Kristina Linnovaara from SLS, the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland.
The project has received a total of 1.85 million euros in funding from eight funds and foundations. The funding organisations are the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS), Föreningen Konstsamfundet, Stiftelsen Tre Smeder, Stiftelsen Brita Maria Renlunds minne, Åbo Akademi University Foundation, Svenska folkskolans vänner, and the Harry Schauman Foundation.
”We are happy to help make Swedish-language newspapers available to customers on such a large scale. At the same time, we can also ensure that the authors and publishers of newspapers will receive appropriate remuneration for the use of their copyrighted work,” says Valtteri Niiranen, CEO of Kopiosto.
Digitised and publicly available newspapers and magazines
- All digitised newspapers and magazines published in Finland are publicly available online at digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi.
- A total of 685 titles and 6.1 million newspaper pages.
- All digitised Swedish-language newspapers published in Finland are publicly available online at digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi until the end of 2026.
- New Swedish-language newspapers from the 1940s have been made publicly available, with a total of 39 titles and over 200,000 newspaper pages.
- All digitised Swedish-language newspapers published in Finland in 1950–2018 are made locally available in the following archives as the digitisation process progresses:
- The National Library of Finland and other legal deposit libraries
- Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (Svenska litteratursällskapet), Helsinki and Vaasa
- Brages Pressarkiv, Helsinki
- Ålands landskapsarkiv, Mariehamn
- A total of 38 titles and over a million newspaper pages
- The National Library of Finland and Kopiosto have signed a copyright agreement to enable the publication of digital newspapers and magazines in the library’s collection for research purposes at digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi until the end of 2022.
- All digitised Finnish-language and Swedish-language newspapers and magazines published in Finland are locally available in the National Library of Finland, the Library of the Finnish Parliament, and five other legal deposit libraries.
- A total of 893 titles and 12.7 million pages
*number of titles and newspaper pages in 1 Jan. 2022
Liaison Manager Pirjo Karppinen,
National Library of Finland
Tel. +358 (0)50 318 2320, pirjo.karppinen(at)helsinki.fi
Archive Manager Kristina Linnovaara, Society of Swedish Literature in Finland
Tel. +358 (0)40 168 8088, kristiina.linnovaara(at)sls.fi
Senior Vice President Juha Jukkara, Kopiosto
Tel. +358 (0)9 4315 2346, juha.jukkara(at)kopiosto.fi
Legal deposit libraries and using legal deposit materials
Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (Svenska litteratursällskapet, SLS) https://www.sls.fi/sv
Brages Pressarkiv https://www.bragespressarkiv.fi/
Provincial Archives of Åland (Ålands Landskapsarkiv) https://www.arkivet.ax/en
For more information about the project, please visit https://www.kansalliskirjasto.fi/en/cooperation-and-partnerships/projects