Päivi Setälä’s archive shared with researchers

Date published
Donated to the National Library of Finland in February 2019, Päivi Setälä’s archives have now been organised. Setälä served as professor of history at the University of Helsinki and as director of the Finnish Institute in Rome (1994–1997). She was one of the main people in charge of planning the University of Helsinki’s 350th anniversary festivities and was pivotal in bringing women’s studies to Finland by establishing the Christina Institute at the University of Helsinki in 1991.

The archive contains a large number of newspaper clippings.

Picture by
Marko Oja / Kansalliskirjasto

In addition to her activities in many different cultural organisations, Setälä became widely known as an author for her accessible trilogy of books on women’s history, Antiikin nainen, Keskiajan nainen and Renessanssin nainen, discussing the lives of women during Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, respectively.

Setälä’s archive covers practically all areas of her life, but the material with the richest research potential relates to Setälä’s academic activities. The wide range of research opportunities in the archive are primarily related to women’s studies, the operation of Villa Lante and Setälä’s many opinions about Europe and women’s history through presentations that have hitherto been unpublished. The many manuscripts and notes included in the material also shed light on Setälä’s writing process.

The correspondence and congratulatory notes relating to professorial conferments and other events document Setälä’s extensive networks. Setälä is thought to have succeeded in promoting Villa Lante thanks to her broad networks, but the archive also includes materials relating to the academic activities of the Finnish Institute in Rome as well as Setälä’s own projects. In terms of women’s studies, the archive features manuscripts of Setälä’s talks relating particularly to women’s status and the history of Finnish women, a topic that does not feature prominently in Setälä’s published works. Another frequent topic of Setälä’s talks is the importance of culture and the European identity.

Setälä was a member of the Research Council for Culture and Society at the Academy of Finland as well as the board of the Finnish Cultural Foundation. She also served in a leadership position of the Finnish Historical Society in 1992, where she helped establish the National Biography of Finland. The archive features a great number of documents related to these and other organisations where Setälä was involved, often in a leadership position.

Setälä wrote columns for various publications, including the Helsingin Sanomat daily and the Suomen Kuvalehti magazine. She amassed an extensive collection of her published opinion pieces and academic articles as well as newspaper clippings with reviews of her books. No official bibliography has been collected of the articles of this prolific professor.

The archive material can be accessed in the Special Collections Reading Room of the National Library. Material can be requested via email (kk-palvelu@helsinki.fi), or by filling out a form at the Library. A list of the contents of the archive is available in the Special Collections Reading Room.


Further information:

Jouni Ahmajärvi
Head of services
Archiving and preservation services
National Library of Finland

050 311 9260