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Vörå Emigration Center

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by Torbjörn Nikus and Kristin Carlson Rhodes

Vörå Kulturhus, Home of the Emigration Center
If you desire assistance in tracing your ancestral roots in Finland, or if you are looking for descendants of emigrants

from Finland, the Vörå Emigration Center can help you. Personnel read and speak Swedish, Finnish and English. They research directly with records from Vörå, Oravais, and Maxmo parishes. They will assist in obtaining information from other parishes, including assistance with language translation. They also provide help to persons who are searching for descendants of emigrants, especially for Finns who emigrated from Finland to the United States.

The Vörå Emigration Center was founded, and is run, by members of the Association of Genealogical and Heritage Researchers, Vörå. This association, known more commonly as the Genealogical Society in Vörå, was founded in 1981 when seven citizens of Vörå who were interested in genealogy participated in a course conducted by the Finnish Genealogical Society. The purpose of the course was to give attendees permission to search records in Finnish archives. On the last day of this three day course, the seven attendees founded the local Genealogical Society in Vörå, modeled after a similar association in Vasa, Finland. John Långs was elected chairman. He served in this position for 21 years. Additional members soon joined the original group, and they met in a small room in the basement of the Municipal building in Vörå. Currently, there are more than 70 members of the association.

In 1990, due in large part to the efforts of chairman, John Långs, funds were solicited from various sources, including the Swedish Cultural Fund, the Ministry of Education, and the Finnish Parliament. With these funds, the Association of Genealogical and Heritage Researchers, Vörå purchased an old bank building to be used as a cultural center. Today Vörå Kulturhus is the home to the Genealogical Society. The building is used for membership meetings, geneaRhodeslogical research courses, and housing for archived materials and records. Thousands of documents and other historical items are stored in the old bank vault, which is now used for the archives. Materials are arranged according to standard archival practice.

The original materials for the archives were collected mainly through the efforts of Leo Achren, who went from village to village in Vörå, asking residents for old documents and other items they might have stored in their attic. He collected hundreds of documents from farms, including private letters, and information about societies which were no longer in existence. Also included in the items he collected were the lists of horses that were required to be given to the army during WWII. He found these lists lying on the ground near an old farmhouse that was being torn down. Members of the association continue today to gather material for the archives. Two current projects include the collection of old photographs, and identifying the persons in the photographs, and labeling old maps to identify farm names. A dictionary is also being developed to translate the Vörå dialect of Swedish to modern Swedish.

In 1999, the Genealogical Society in Vörå applied for, and received, European Union Leader funding, and developed the Vörå Emigration Center, administered from Vörå Kulturhus. These funds allowed for the purchase of computers and necessary office equipment, and for staffing for one year, beginning September 1, 1999. Today, the research services and language assistance are provided by members of the local Genealogical Society, all of whom work on a volunteer basis. These volunteers have vast experience in genealogical research. Ongoing expenses for routine annual operation of Vörå Kulturhus are now met by funds received from the Swedish Cultural Fund, small contributions from the municipality of Vörå, small donations from private businesses, and nominal fees charged for research and other assistance provided by the Emigration Center. Both the Genealogical Society and the Emigration Center are non-profit organizations.

During the first year of operation, 747 individuals personally visited the Vörå Emigration Center. They came from various regions in Finland and Sweden; Copenhagen; Northern Ireland; Poland; Washington State; Berkley, California; Anaconda, Montana; St. Paul, Minnesota; Hamburg, Germany; and Estonia, as well as many other worldwide locations. Today the Emigration Center continues to receive inquiries from all over the world.

Please visit our website http://www.emicenter.fi. Requests for assistance in researching ancestors in Finland, locating descendants of emigrants, and with language translation can be sent by email to info@emicenter.fi. The Emigration Center in rural Vörå parish is a unique place. It exists today due to the hard work and sacrifices of the founders and other volunteers of the Genealogical and Heritage Researchers, Vörå. It plays an important role in preserving the cultural heritage of the region. It is of great value not only to local residents and other Finns, but to all persons with ancestral ties to Finland.

Contact Information

  • Kristin Rhodes
  • Phone: 702-595-6067 (USA number)
  • email: krisrhodes@embarqmail.com
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