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Institute for the Languages of Finland

Names Archive

The Names Archive (Nimiarkisto) contains a corpus of material on Finnish and Saami names, serving as a tool for research and name planning. The archive contains a wealth of valuable resources not only for onomasts and linguists, but also for archaeologists, historians, ethnologists and scientists. The archive also offers interesting background material and supplementary resources for genealogists.

The bulk of the archive consists of a collection of geographical place names, proper names, names appearing in official documents, and a cartographic collection. Other resources include a collection of domestic animal names (e.g. names of horses, cattle, dogs and cats).

Most of the toponymic collection is based on oral sources collected in the field by trained linguists and students. Additional material has been collected through naming competitions.

The Names Archive currently contains over 2.6 million original or comparable place-name card files covering Finland and its neighbouring territories, all itemized by parish. These card files form the basis of a comprehensive nationwide toponym collection and index. The archive contains over 2,250,000 card files for Finland alone. To date we have compiled an estimated 95 per cent of Finland’s traditional place names in Finnish and Saami, and field work to gather the remaining five per cent is still in progress. A small portion of the toponym archive is available in electronic format.

The archive contains 417,000 card-file entries for geographical place names outside Finland, 326,000 of which are located in Karelian territory ceded to the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Other territories represented in the archive include Finnish-speaking regions of Sweden and Norway, East Karelia, Viena Karelia, Aunus Karelia, Vepsian territory, Ingria and Estonia. Saami-language entries comprise a total of 32,300 place names in Finland, Petsamo and Swedish and Norwegian Lapland. The original card-file collection is alphabetised and itemised by municipality or parish.

The Names Archive contains a sizeable collection of proper names (466,500 card files in total), plus smaller, specialised name collections, an index of first names and surnames, and microcards of historical parish records copied by the Genealogical Society of Finland, forming the basis of an index of first names and surnames itemised by province.

Our index of names appearing in official documents provides a wealth of information on old Finnish names. Comprising both proper names and geographical place names, it is chiefly based on 16th century documents stored in the Finnish National Archive. Our card index guides you to the original document in which the name appears.

The cartographic collection contains over 36,300 maps, most of them dating from the 20th century.

The material in the Names Archive is supplemented by additional resources in our library.

Updated 25 March 2009

Contact us

Names Archive and Library

The archive is open weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. We close at 2 pm on summer Fridays and the day before any public holiday.

Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskeskus
Vuorikatu 24
FI-00100 Helsinki

Eeva-Liisa Stenhammar
Tel +358 20 781 3289

Helinä Uusitalo
Tel +358 20 781 3298

Fax +358 20 7813 219

E-mail: nimiarkisto[at]kotus.fi

Articles on the Names Archive written in English: 

Miikkulainen, Raija (1998): Toponyms Data Bank (based on the paper read at the XIXth International Congress of Onomastic Sciences Aberdeen, August 4-11, 1996). Published in: Miikkulainen, Raija (1998): The Database of Finnish Toponyms. In W.F. H. Nicolaisen (ed.), Proceedings of the XIXth International Congress of Onomastic Sciences. Aberdeen, August 4-11, 1996. Volume 2. Department of English, University of Aberdeen. Aberdeen. S. 248255.

Närhi, Eeva Maria 1990: The Onomastic Central Archives – the Foundation of Finnish Onomastics. In Heikki Leskinen & Eero Kiviniemi (eds.), Finnish Onomastics – Namenkunde in Finnland. Studia Fennica, Review of Finnish Linguistics and Ethnology 34, p. 9–25. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.

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