Data sources for the 'Learning from our past' project

Graphing tool

Robert Lynch constructed this graphing tool for the purpose of easily visualizing the relationships between variables in our data. Note: if you receive an error when clicking on the link, it is probably because the time limit for accessing the app has been exceeded. Please try again later!

Movement visualization

Using our data Tuomas Salmi has produced a great visualization of the movements of Karelians prior to during and after the war. Within a few years, they experienced complete evacuation from Karelia in 1939, a high return rate back to Karelia when the territory was recaptured by Finland in 1941, and then re-evacuation in 1944.

Finnish registers

Finland has a rich source of registers that were compiled in the 1960's and 70's. These registers are a little bit like an 'off-line Facebook'. Typically, interest groups would decide to make a register about a group of people they belonged to. After identifying as many of the people as possible who belonged to the group, interviewers would set out to collect information.

Interviewers gathered basic information such as birth place, birth date, and profession of the person being interviewed and their spouse (if they had one). Any children and their birth years were also recorded. Depending on the interest group, much more detailed data were gathered about e.g., size of house, places lived in, number of cattle, military medals etc. 

Once published the registers were bought by members of the group (e.g., to find people they know or contacts) and copies of the major registers can be found in public libraries in Finland.

Digitizing registers

We have scanned a large number of registers into pdf format and further scanned them with ABBYY software's optimal charater recognition to allow the text to be extracted. Extraction of the data has been done by our project's programmers (Tuomas Salmi and Juuso Kallioniemi) who have designed a program called 'Kaira-core' for this purpose. Kaira core extracts the data and saves it as .csv formatted data. 

For more information on the digitizing process please see our open access publication: Loehr et al. 2017

We have scanned the following registers:

Siirtokarjalaistentie (register of evacuees from Finnish Karelia)

Suomen rintamamiehet (register of soldiers who fought in WWII)

Suomen pienviljelijät (register of farmers with smaller properties)

Suuri maatilakirja (register of farmers with larger properties)

MiKARELIA database

The register (Siirtokarjalaisten tie) that we have made the most progress with so far is one that recorded the lives of people who were evacuated from Finnish Karelia during the Second World War. Karelians left the region as the Soviet troops advanced in 1939 and evacuated to other locations in western Finland. Finland later recaptured this territory and a large proprotion of the evacuated people moved back, until they were later evacuated again as Soviet troops advanced in 1944. 

These data are a unique record of the lives of people evacuated from Karelia, and contain many intersting details of the people's lives. All in all the data contain records from over 160,000 adults, and on a world scale, it is very rare to have knowledge of such a large number of people's lives before and after evacuation and these data can give us insight into how displaced people adapt to their new circumstances. 

For more information on the MiKARELIA data please see our publication: Loehr et al. 2017