View Full Version : Reading materials in the 1800s

Karen Douglas
06-02-05, 20:44
I have a question that I wish I had asked my Finnish-born mother and Swede-Finn father before they passed on. Perhaps someone can answer this for me.

Outside of the Family Bible, and books for schoolchildren, what type of reading materials did our ancestors have in the mid-to-late 1800s? Can anyone tell me when the newspaper made its entrance into Finnish culture?

I have heard that Finland is suppose to have one of the highest rates of literacy in the world. My parents were raised in Vaasa/Vasa. My mother liked to read when she came to the USA, and frequently used proverbs, to get her message across, probably because the Bible was read regularly in their home. My father was an avid reader of news magazines.

Thanks in advance for any information you have to share!:)


Kaj Granlund
06-02-05, 22:15
It highly depends on the families. Newspapers appeared from 1771 - . The first ones were written in swedish. Towards the end of 1800 the number of finnish newspapers increased.
In some places the pre-library system started, as a group. They got together bought some book and passed it from member to member until everybody had read it. They could share these books as they were read or they could keep them in one place as a small library.
In Vasa (the old Vasa before the great fire) there was also a very important school, and they had a good library too. I think the fashion of litterature followed the headlines of those in Sweden and the rest of Europe at that time.

June Pelo
06-02-05, 22:47
I know that my father's family, in Nedervetil, read Österbottningen newspaper, which was founded in 1883. The newspaper still publishes for Karleby, Kronoby and Nedervetil residents. Since this was a farming area, I would assume that people living in or near large cities had a wider selection of newsprint.


07-02-05, 23:02
In my files I found a list of books, recorded in the estate of a relative who died 1828. He did own The Holy Bible, three psalm books and six different prayer books, all translated from other languages but common reading among religious Finns at the time. His
The family lived in Ylihärmä, on the border of Swedish and Finnish speaking Ostrobothnia and were common farmers. The family spoke Finnish but was probably originally Swedish speaking or could speak Swedish as his father had demanded the chaplain of Ylihärmä to have Swedish services in the church, in addition to the Finnish ones.

Paivi T
08-02-05, 15:05
You can view old Finnish newspapers nline at:


There's also a searchable database.

Päivi T