Carl O. Nordling:

Introducing essays about a number of notable Finland-Swedes and about their importance in history


All European countries except Portugal contain ethnic minorities. Some of these minorities are rather well known internationally, others are more or less ignored. Everyone knows that there are Albanians in Yugoslavia, but few have ever heard of Albanians in Greece or of Germans in France. Also the Samis living in the northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland are generally recognised as an ethnic minority. In Finland the Samis form a minority of 0.2 percent of the total population. Less well known internationally is the 6 percent minority of ethnic Swedes in Finland. While we never hear of "Sami speaking Norwegians", "Hebrew speaking Palestinians" etc., one often stumbles on the term "Swedish speaking Finns" to denote a certain group of ethnic Swedes. This is a way of denying the group their ethnic identity. Admittedly, something similar is practised in Turkey, where the Kurds are called "Mountain Turks" in official quarters.

Today, the Finland-Swedes constitute a very small minority among the five million population of the Republic of Finland. Their number is only about 300,000 or six percent. In the past they were even less numerous than at present, but calculated as a percentage they amounted to 12 percent in 1900 and 16 percent in 1800. There are indications of a much higher proportion in earlier periods as will be discussed later. Today nearly all Finland-Swedes are living in two rather narrow strips of land along the western and southern coasts of Finland where the urban population is mixed with Finns. Formerly these strips were ethnically unmixed whereas thousands of Finland-Swedes were living in the towns in the interior and also among the rural population.

The Finland-Swedes are ethnically distinguishable from the Finns and--to a lesser degree--also from the Swedes of Sweden. By retaining their language they have powerfully strengthened Finland's attachment to the Scandinavian countries and thereby to the Western World. As will be evident from these essays, Finland would not have been anything like what it is to day without the activity of a number of distinguished Finland-Swedes.

While there may be weighty political reasons for sweeping this fact under the carpet, there are certainly scholarly reasons to investigate the historical significance of this very distinctive group of people.

In the essay called Finland-Swede writers and artists I have listed Swedes who have distinguished themselves in literature and art, making a distinction between Finland-Swedes and Swedes from Sweden. For practical reasons this survey is limited to persons who were active in the 19th century.

Another essay called Finland-Swede military men and civil servants deals with prominent persons throughout the centuries, excluding only those born in the 20th century. The same limitation has been done in all the following essays as well. In the case of military men it was found relevant to make some comparisons between Finland-Swedes and Russians.

The third essay is called Finland-Swede scientists and does not need any further introduction.

Although the ethnic Finns long lacked a written language as well as both junior and senior level schools, and therefore also an educated class, all this has been thoroughly changed during recent centuries. Finnish has become a literary language, usable for all kinds of scientific work since more than half a century. The educated class in Finland of today is mainly Finnish speaking and ethnically Finnish. Surprisingly this change has been brought about largely by the activity of a number of Finland-Swedes. These are featured in the essay titled Finland-Swede promoters of Finnish.

Not all the notable Finland-Swedes fit into the above mentioned groups. Therefore I have collected the basic facts about the remaining into the essay titled Various distinguished Finland-Swedes.

Very little research has been done so far in order to elucidate the genesis of this rather unique ethnic group. Anyway, I have tried to present briefly what I have been able to discover on this subject in the essay called About the genesis of the Finland-Swedes.

Finally you will find an essay titled The traditional notion about the origin of the Finland-Swedes. This has been written mainly in order to correct a number of misconceptions that keep lingering from historians working in the 19th century and before.

Whenever none of the sources lissted beow are not clearly referred to (always within brackets), data about the persons mentioned in the essays are taken from Uppslagsverket Finland, Finsk biografisk handbok (Carpelan), Kansallinen elämäkerrasto, Suomen elämäkerrasto (Heikinheimo) and Svensk Uppslagsbok. As far as possible the data in these works have been compared with each other.

List of reference books used as sources:

Alcenius, E.R., Genealogia Sursilliana. 1850.

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. 7th ed. Oxford 1984.

Bonsdorff, Lars G. von, Stämningar och förhållanden i Finland före

skilsmässan från Sverige. Stockholm 1949.

Boström, H.J., Sankarien muisto. Helsinki 1927.

Carpelan, Tor. Finsk biografisk handbok. Helsingfors 1903.

Curtiss, John Shelton, The Russian Army under Nicholas I, 1825-1855.

Durham, NC 1965.

The Dictionary of Art. New York 1996.

Encyclopædia Britannica, The New. 15th ed. 1993.

Estlander, Bernhard, Elva årtionden ur Finlands historia, 3.

Helsingfors 1930.

Forsman, A.V., Pakanuudenajan nimistö. Helsinki 1891.

Gadd, P.E., Släktkalender. 1949-60

Hartman, Tor, I inbördeskriget år 1918 döda och försvunna.

Helsingfors 1970.

Heikinheimo, Ilmari, Suomen elämäkerrasto. Helsinki 1955.

Hornborg, Eirik, Man i ledet. Helsingfors 1959.

Kansallinen elämäkerrasto. (Ed.: Suomen historiallinen seura.)

Porvoo 1927.

Kungl. Veterinärhögskolan läsåret 1939-40, Katalog.

Klinge, Matti, Runebergs två fosterland. Helsingfors 1983.

Klinge, Matti, Krig, kvinnor, konst. Helsingfors 1997.

Lappalainen, Jussi, Punakaartin sota. Helsinki 1981.

Meri, Veijo, Han som blev Aleksis Kivi. Ekenäs 1980.

Niemi, Juhani, Juhani Aho. Helsinki 1985.

Nordling, Carl, "The genetic composition of the main race groups in

FinlandProceedings of the Second Seminarof Nordic Physical

Anthropology. University of Lund 1993.

Pinello, N.H. (ed.), Finlands ridderskaps och adels kalender för år

1872, Åbo 1872.

Rein, Gabriel, Föreläsningar öfver Finlands historia I.

Helsingfors 1870.

Screen, J.E.O., The entry of Finnish officers into Russian military

service 1809-1917. London 1976.

Screen, J.E.O., "Våra landsmän": Finnish officers in Russian Service

1809-1917. Åbo 1983.

Suomen jääkärien elämäkerrasto. Helsinki 1975.

Suomen Teknillinen Korkeakoulu, luettelo syyslukukausi 1938.

Svensk Uppslagsbok. 2nd version. Malmö 1947-55.

Teknologföreningen, Oktober 1938.

Uppslagsverket Finland. Helsingfors 1982-85.

Verkko, Veli, Homicides and suicides in Finland and their depedence

on national character. København 1951.

Verkko, Veli, Väkivaltarikollisuuden riippuvaisuus kansanluonteesta

ja muista etnillisistä tekijöistä. Helsinki 1936. p. 42-43.

Voionmaa, Väinö, "Suur-Sääksmäen muinaishistoriasta" Historiallinen

Arkisto, vol. 32:2. Helsinki 1924.

Wilskman, Atle, Släktbok. Helsingfors 1914-33.

Ylikangas, Heikki, Klubbekriget. Stockholm 1999.

Carl O. Nordling