The Digital History in Finland Network (#DigiHistFi) will organise a one-day symposium on Digital History in Finland at the University of Helsinki on Wednesday 9 December 2015. The motto of the network and symposium is: History first, digital second.
There will be more than 25 presentations of different projects in total, all presentations are short, 10 minutes each. This is a good opportunity to learn about many Digital History projects in Finland and meet other people working in the field. Morning sessions will also be streamed and there is a possibility to present through skype in the morning.

Places are limited, register using this form:

For online streaming use:

Livestream: password: tutiku

Digital History is an area within the emerging field of Digital Humanities that is combining humanities and social sciences with contemporary information and communication technologies. Digital history aims to further historical practice by applying computational methods to various types of historical source materials and data. While there is a tradition, for example, among corpus linguists to use computational methods, the study of history has been slower to take up new approaches in a productive manner.

In Finland, the computational approach to history has so far rarely impacted on the core of the historian’s craft in such a way that those who have not already any previous interests in digital humanities would pay attention. Yet, the potential for revisiting old and creating new research questions through computational methods is considerable. This is what the network and symposium seeks to explore further.

The idea of this symposium is to bring together historians working on different aspects of digital history in Finland to talk about their research and meet other scholars interested in similar questions.

Please note that the symposium has two venues:

Morning venue (9.00-12.00), Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Seminar Room, Fabianinkatu 24A, 1st floor

Afternoon venue (12.30-17.30), Siltavuorenpenger 1, tila AUD K170 (sali 2)


Morning venue, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Seminar Room, Fabianinkatu 24A, 1st floor

9.00–9.15: Introduction (Mikko Tolonen, University of Helsinki and Hannu Salmi, University of Turku)

9.1510.30: 1. Manuscripts, Metadata & Genres (Chair: Mats Fridlund, Aalto University)

  • 1.1. Outi Hupaniittu & National Archives (Development manager Outi Hupaniittu): “READ – Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents
  • 1.2. Marko Tikka, Seija-Leena Nevala & Ilari Taskinen (University of Tampere): “Recognition and Retrieval of Handwritten Texts for Digital Humanities Research
  • 1.3. Timo Korkiakangas, Ville Walta, Maria Kallio ja Matti Lassila (University of Helsinki): “Charters, Scribes, and Formulas: Social Networks and Writing Practices in the Medieval Charters of Finland
  • 1.4. Ville Walta (SKS): “Codices Fennici – A project to study and digitize Finnish medieval and 16th century manuscripts
  • 1.5. Mikko Tolonen, Niko Ilomäki, Hege Roivainen ja Leo Lahti (University of Helsinki): “Fennica and Kungliga Catalogues and Finnish Early Modern Publishing
  • 1.6. Patrik Aaltonen (University of Helsinki): “The Problem with Moretti: Studying Literary Genres in the Digital Age

10.30–10.45: Break

10.4511.55: 2. GLAM (Chair: Anu Lahtinen, University of Helsinki)

  • 2.1. Jaakko Tahkokallio (National Library of Finland): “National Library Sources for Digital History”
  • 2.2. Johanna Ilmakunnas (University of Helsinki): “Digitized Museum Collections as Sources for Historical Research
  • 2.3. Charlotta Wolff (University of Helsinki), “For a Social History of the Enlightenment: Digital Perspectives on Diplomatic Sociability
  • 2.4. Lauri Viinikkala (University of Turku): “Mixed Reality Technology and Historical Research
  • 2.5. Susanna Ånas (Wikimedia/University of Aalto): “Bridging the Gap between Libraries, Archives, Museums, Albums and Attics
  • 2.6. Pekka Uotila (Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences): “The Family Archive as a Narrative Organization

11.55–12.30 Paper bag lunch at Siltavuorenpenger

Afternoon venue, Siltavuorenpenger 1 tila AUD K170 (sali 2)

12.3013.40 3. Digital World & Born Digital (Chair: Jaakko Suominen, University of Turku)

  • 3.1. Martti Häikiö (University of Helsinki): “Tiedon digitalisoinnin historiaa
  • 3.2. Jaakko Suominen (University of Turku): “Doing Research on the History of Born Digital Phenomena
  • 3.3. Marjoriikka Ylisiurua (University of Helsinki): “Online Data – Historical Material Among Others, Yet Posing New Methodological Challenges to Solve
  • 3.4. Ylva Grufstedt (University of Helsinki): “Historical Culture and Consciousness in Digital Games
  • 3.5. Jessica Parland-von Essen (University of Helsinki) and Kenneth Nyberg (University of Gothenburg): “History in a Digital World – Open Production of a Web Based Textbook

13.40–14.00 Break

14.00–15.10 4. Newspapers, Journals and Magazines (Chair: Ilkka Mäkinen, University of Tampere)

  • 4.1. Tuula Pääkkönen (National Library of Finland): “244 Years of Newspaper History Digitized
  • 4.2. Risto Turunen (University of Tampere): “Combining Small and Big Data Approaches to the Language of Finnish Socialism, 1895–1918
  • 4.3. Antti Häkkinen (University of Helsinki): “Inheritance of a Good Life: How the Ideals of a Good Life Have Been Negotiated and Transmitted Between Generations
  • 4.4. Mats Fridlund (Aalto University) & Petri Paju (University of Turku): “History Mining of Engineering Journals. Exploring Transnationalism of Finnish Industrialization, 1880–1910
  • 4.5. Jukka Kortti: “The Press History Research and Digital Possibilities: The Case of Finnish Cultural Magazines in the early 20th Century

15.10–15.20 Break

15.2016.30 5. Maps, Audio & 3D (Chair: Jessica Parland von Essen, University of Helsinki)

  • 5.1. Riitta Rainio (& Kai Lassfolk, Antti Lahelma, Tiina Äikäs), University of Helsinki: “Acoustic Measurements, 3D Modeling and Digital Image Processing at Three Sacred Sites in Northern Finland
  • 5.2. Panu Savolainen (University of Turku): “Digital Mapping of Urban Centrality and Periphery
  • 5.3. Mila Oiva (University of Turku): “Talking about Advertising. Changes in Polish Economic Discourse, 1950–1980
  • 5.4. Ilkka Jokipii & Virva Liski (University of Helsinki): “Mapping the Finnish State Criminal Court Convictions of 1918: New Insights with Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis
  • 5.5. Anssi Jääskeläinen (Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences): “Modernizing Digital History

16.30–17.30 Concluding panel: ‘Where Are We and Where Should We Be Going?



  1. Manuscripts, metadata & genres


1.1. Outi Hupaniittu & National Archives (Development manager Outi Hupaniittu): READ – Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents

The National Archives of Finland is participating in the project Read (2016-2018). In cooperation with European archival institutions and researchers, the Horizon 2020 funded project aims to create a research infrastructure for the character recognition of hand written text. In the proposed paper, the project idea will be discussed from researchers’ point of view. The project aims to revolutionize access to digitized archival collections, but what does it denote? What sort of input will be needed from the researchers and what is the contribution of the National Archives in the project?


1.2. Marko Tikka, Seija-Leena Nevala & Ilari Taskinen (University of Tampere): Recognition and retrieval of handwritten texts for digital humanities research

We present an idea of an interdisciplinary project of historians and information scientists, which is being planned at the University of Tampere. In the project, researchers work together to improve archival use and scientific research possibilities of handwritten digitized archive material. The project aims to: 1. develop a system which recognizes handwriting from digitized archive material and turns it to digital. 2. Apply these methods to practical archive environment by developing a search system, which allows word-based as well as thematic searching from a collection of digitized handwritten material. 3. Explore and test new possibilities that these systems open for humanistic research. The test material is the wartime letter collection of 40 000 letters, preserved in the Folklife archives of the University of Tampere.


1.3. Timo Korkiakangas, Ville Walta, Maria Kallio ja Matti Lassila (University of Helsinki): Charters, Scribes, and Formulas: Social Networks and Writing Practices in the Medieval Charters of Finland

The objective of our planned project is to combine innovatively two computer-assisted tools for quantitative study of historical, linguistic, and legal historical conventions in medieval vernacular Swedish charters of the Diplomatarium Fennicum. This objective will be achieved by merging the results of diplomatic formula detection with contextual metadata by way of mainly spatio-temporal network analysis. The technical end product will be a network-based model of diachronic and areal variation within the formula inventory of the DF charters. The approach combines traditional historical methodology with computer-assisted digital diplomatics. The study encompasses charters written in and relating to Finland from the fourteenth century to 1530.


1.4. Ville Walta: Codices Fennici – A project to study and digitize Finnish medieval and 16th century manuscripts

The Codices Fennici project aims to catalogue, study and digitize Finnish medieval and 16th century manuscripts. The project has finished a survey of the material, which has already shown that more Finnish manuscripts survive than previously estimated. Providing a digital catalogue along with digitized images of the manuscripts in a virtual library makes the material readily available and will help generate new research. The paper presents the ongoing project, introduces the material it deals with, and discusses how the manuscripts are to be presented online.


1.5. Mikko Tolonen, Niko Ilomäki, Hege Roivainen ja Leo Lahti (University of Helsinki): Fennica and Kungliga catalogues and Finnish early modern publishing. This paper analyses the overall development of Finnish book production between 1640-1828 based on a reproducible analytical ecosystem of library catalogues. It extends our earlier pilot project on the use of the ESTC catalogue (, also to be published as an article, forthcoming in LIBER Quarterly). In this new paper focusing on Scandinavia, we will further demonstrate the potential of digitized library catalogues as tool for digital humanities and part of reproducible research. We will continue our experimental analysis of paper consumption in early modern book production, and demonstrate in practice the importance of open-science principles for digital humanities.


1.6. Patrik Aaltonen (University of Helsinki): The problem with Moretti: studying literary genres in the digital age

In books like Atlas of the European Novel, 1800–1900 (1998) and Graphs, maps, trees (2005), Franco Moretti has explored the history of literary genres from a quantitative and statistical perspective, by the way of ”distant reading”. I will adress one of the problems with Moretti’s controversial approach; namely, the underlying assumption that every text has an inherent and fixed genre. Today many genre theorists argue that genre isn’t a property of texts, but rather something that readers impute to texts. In my paper, I will explain how this changes the study of literary genres, and propose some modifications to Moretti’s approach.



2.1. Jaakko Tahkokallio (National Library of Finland): on National Library of Finland Sources for Digital History


2.2. Johanna Ilmakunnas (University of Helsinki): Digitized museum collections as sources for historical research

The proposed paper aims to explore what possibilities and restrictions historians may encounter while using digitized museum collections as source material. The paper will discuss the possibilities of exploring before relatively closed museum collections of objects and potentiality for novel approaches digitized collections offer for historians. Furthermore, restrictions such as insufficient information on images, inadequate meta data or strict copyright regulations will be discussed. The paper takes a case study approach, drawing from the idea to explore one particular object, working table, and how it can be studied with the help of digitized collections offering both textual, visual and material sources.


2.3. Charlotta Wolff (University of Helsinki): For a social history of the Enlightenment: digital perspectives on diplomatic sociability

This paper deals with digital tools for the study of early modern networks of sociability. Through computational, quantitative and spatial analyses of data retrieved from French police archives of the latter half of the eighteenth century, it is possible to obtain a sharper picture of the various cliques that made up the aristocratic, diplomatic and literary sociability in Paris and their connections to each other, to estimate their relative weight and to analyze the importance and functions of literary sociability in a political and diplomatic context. In the end, this could contribute to the social history of the Enlightenment.


2.4. Lauri Viinikkala (University of Turku): Mixed Reality Technology and Historical Research

My presentation will deal with the subject of my doctoral thesis, i.e. the use of mixed reality technology as a tool for historical research. Mixed reality, covering both augmented and virtual reality, consists of techniques for combining digital elements with physical environment. Traditionally it has been used for illustrating the past within a museum context. The technology, however, can be useful for historical research itself since it offers both, a novel way to communicate research results to academic and non-academic audiences and a method for elaborating interpretations about the past by concretizing abstractions and through different kinds of digital reconstructions.


2.5. Susanna Ånas (Wikimedia/University of Aalto): Bridging the gap between libraries, archives, museums, albums and attics

Locating a space for the crossover of DIY amateur history research and academic study is a problem to solve. While memory institutions are gradually opening their collections for public reuse, the consumers are left with commercial services while the preservation of private photos, letters and documents is nobody’s responsibility. Existing or new open spaces are needed where one can make available materials, access previous study, welcome non-expert contributions, share expertise, make available tools, circulate and congregate in. Are these spaces the web of existing environments, is it a working method, or are new platforms needed?


2.6. Pekka Uotila (Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences): The Family Archive as a Narrative Organization

This paper examines the family archive as a communicative constructed organization. The aim in this conceptual article is to redescribe the personal archive and suggest new vocabularies to be used when studying and constructing the family archive. In this paper, the theoretical starting point is the narrativity of organizations. Ideas of the narrative construction of organizations in the field of organizational discourse analysis are applied to the construction of a family archive. The family archive is considered as a narrative platform that forms the emergent organization with fuzzy borders and undefined form. The individual, narrative interpretations are based on the records of the digital archive. The narrative interpretation of a family archive is illustrated with a case study of the construction of a digital archive with a married couple born 1924 (the parents of the author). The archive includes photographs, written documents and some other sentimental objects from 1926-1955. The archived records are preserved in the YKSA-personal archive –service developed and maintained by the University of Applied sciences of Mikkeli, Finland. The construction of the family archive as an organization is based on similar principles that are used to form archives in general. Some features of archiving like provenance, metadata, selection, publicity and accessibility are discussed in relation to the features of narrative interpretation of a family archive as an emergent organization. As a result the construction of a digital family archive is claimed to function as an emergent organization with similar features, like constant interplay between conversation and durable artifacts; records as meaning making machines and the emerging organization as a multiverse of contradictory and evolving interpretations and stories. The paper suggests that these features should be used to develop the theory of personal archiving and the digital archiving services.

  1. Digitial world & born digital


3.1. Martti Häikiö (University of Helsinki): Tiedon digitalisoinnin historiaa

Martti Häikiö ja Essi Ylitalo: Bit Bang. Yrjö Neuvo ja digitaalinen kumous (SKS 2013)

Martti Häikiö: Hyöty ja tiede. Tampereen teknillisen yliopiston historia 1965-2015 (SKS, ilmestyi 9.9.2015)

Martti Häikiö: Tiedon metropoli. Tutkimus, opetus ja tiedonvälitys 1045-2010. Osa 6 Helsingin kaupungin historia vuoden 1945 jälkeen (ilmestyy Helsingin Kirjamessuilla 2015)

Näissä teoksissa kuvaan ja pohdin digitalisoitumisen etenemistä ja vaikutuksia eri aloilla. Olen aiemmin kirjoittanut mm. Suomen datasiirron historian, Radiolinjan historian ja Nokia Oyj:n historian.


3.2. Jaakko Suominen (University of Turku): Doing Research on the History of Born Digital Phenomena

The paper deals with the question how to do research on history of born digital phenomena such as video games, the internet and computing. What sort of digital methods we need for such research or do we actually need any or some? The paper introduces a forthcoming case study, related to cultural history of online discussion forums in Finland. The project will combine several research materials and methods, such as interviews, survey data and online data analysis.


3.3. Marjoriikka Ylisiurua (University of Helsinki): Online data – historical material among others, yet posing new methodological challenges to solve

Sooner than we may think, online data like Jussi Halla-Aho’s blog texts or pre-election activity at online discussion forums, will be material for political historians. Traces of online life of ordinary citizens will soon be studied by social historians. And any economic historical research on consumer product scandals will surely utilize Twitter-fueled Martin Shkreli drug price hike controversy as a case. Currently, big data analysis solves simplistic causalities of massive scale human activity. But the complexities require a different approach. I state that the mechanisms of these complexities must be investigated with exploratory research that, while statistical, is qualitative in nature.


3.4. Ylva Grufstedt (University of Helsinki): Historical culture and consciousness in digital games

The impact of digital games on society cannot be overestimated and historical games make up a large portion of the market. For my PhD project I intend to study historical culture and historical consciousness in digital games, taking the games’ digital form and interactive functions into special consideration. The latter have large implications on for example the presence of counterfactual scenarios and the players’ ability to “travel in time”. The study aims to unlock new insights on methodology in order to build over the gap between the reception of the games and their content, and the game themselves.


3.5. Jessica Parland-von Essen (University of Helsinki) and Kenneth Nyberg (University of Gothenburg): History in a Digital World – Open Production of a Web Based Textbook

Historia i en digital värld is an open project on the web at (2013). It is an introduction to several questions related to historical scholarship and teaching in a digital age, like methods, research data, source criticism, long term preservation and methods of digitization, written to support education and raise awareness. The field being large and rapidly developing, experts were invited to write thematic articles. The chapters were published one at a time and comments were gathered mainly through social media. A pdf version of the book-length text was published in 2014. Plans to produce a traditional print publication have not been realized yet. Questions like what kind of a cultural revolution we are trying to cope with and how this may affect the craft and role of historical research give the framework. In our presentation we will present the existing text and an invitation to contribute to the publication of an updated and revised edition.


  1. Digitized newspapers, journals and magazines


4.1. Tuula Pääkkönen (National Library of Finland): 244 years of newspaper history digitized

National Library of Finland has digitized its newspaper and journal collections in systematic manner. Digitization started on 1998 and has continued consistently ever since. The digitization process and presentation system are being developed consistently to respond to the copyright owners needs and to new ways to use open data. The crowdsourcing via digital clippings has been successful effort and has revealed content where users have been interested about. This presentation tells about the past, current work and gives glimpses of future, where we hope discussion with researchers about their wishes.


4.2. Risto Turunen (University of Tampere): Combining Small and Big Data Approaches to the Language of Finnish Socialism, 1895–1918

Finland had the biggest socialist party of Europe in the beginning of the 20th century. I analyze this phenomenon by focusing on the socialist language. I have two different data sets: the handwritten newspapers produced by ordinary workers and the printed newspapers. I am coding the handwritten newspapers into a micro-corpus of socialism. The National Library of Finland has digitized all the printed newspapers into a massive macro-corpus. I will explore the variation inside the socialist language and the differences between socialist and non-socialist language of the time with quantitative and qualitative methods. The point of this presentation is to give an overview of my doctoral thesis that combines approaches from conceptual history, labour history and digital humanities.


4.3. Antti Häkkinen (University of Helsinki): Inheritance of a good life: How the ideals of a good life have been negotiated and transmitted between generations

The goal of this paper is to discuss the common ideals of a good life. Especially it will reflect the ways these ideals have been expressed by common people of different generations and how these ideals have been negotiated, transmitted and reproduced in singular families. A special family life course interview database will be utilized. It consists of 66 life course interviews of three generations in the Päijät-Häme district. The study has been done by analyzing expressions of good life by content analysis and comparing the results by generation, sex and family. The idea is to enlarge the study to the Finnish Historical Newspaper database in the future.


4.4. Mats Fridlund (Aalto University) & Petri Paju (University of Turku): History mining of engineering journals. Exploring transnationalism of Finnish industrialization, 1880-1910

This presentation describes an explorative project to use text mining tools to confirm and challenge existing knowledge about the history of technology and industrialization in general and that of Finnish history of industrialization in particular. In the planned first practical project, we will use digitized Finnish engineering journals (in Swedish) from 1880 to 1910 that have been made available online by the National library of Finland. The study will primarily explore various transnational issues of technoscientific knowledge and technology transfer of the period, especially what kind of foreign technologies that were of interests to the engineering community and how that changed over time during the period, as well as what countries and places that were seen as influential and in the focus of the engineering community at different times.


4.5. Jukka Kortti (University of Helsinki): The Press History Research and Digital Possibilities: The Case of Finnish Cultural Magazines in the early 20th Century

The concept of digital humanities or more precisely digital history includes wide variety of different ways to use communication and computational technologies in research in the field of humanities and social sciences. Data mining together with the ideas of open access provides new ways to use history sources in research. One way to do digital history is to make use of the possibilities of digital software as a tool in history research – to piggyback onto developed technology in a history method. In my presentation, I will show how I have made use of data analysis software Atlas.ti in my study on the Finnish cultural magazines of the early 20th century. I will present the preliminary remarks of applying Atlas to the methods of quantitative and qualitative content analyses in the study of the press history.

  1. Maps, audio & 3D


5.1. Riitta Rainio (& Kai Lassfolk, Antti Lahelma, Tiina Äikäs), University of Helsinki: Acoustic measurements, 3D modeling and digital image processing at three sacred sites in Northern Finland

In Northern Finland, by the canyon lakes Julma-Ölkky, Somer and Taatsi, steep rock cliffs give rise to multiple echoes and other acoustic effects. On the same cliffs, prehistoric rock paintings as well as an ancient Sámi offering site can be found. The paper presents our ongoing archaeoacoustic project that seeks to explore the role of sound in the development and use of these archaeological sites. According to historical sources, echoes played an essential role in the shamanistic rituals that took place by the offering site of Taatsi. The research methods include multichannel recording, spectrum analysis, digital image processing and 3D scanning of the environment.


5.2. Panu Savolainen (University of Turku): Digital mapping of urban centrality and periphery

keywords: historyGIS, centrality, periphery, 18th century, 19th century, Turku

The centre-periphery oppositions have a long history in the field of human geography. In my paper, I present novel ideas how historical data may be applied to understand centrality and periphery in historical urban contexts. I present some preliminary cases from 18-19th century Turku, where different aspects of central and peripheral areas and historical aspects of the distinction are analysed with GIS. Furthermore, I evaluate the issue also from the angle of text corpuses, where the historical meanings of the phenomena and their spatial relevance are discussed.


5.3. Mila Oiva (University of Turku), Talking about Advertising. Changes in Polish Economic Discourse, 1950-1980

This paper is a study of the changing understanding of the concepts related to advertising in state socialist Poland, in 1950-1980. This is an ongoing project, which uses computer assisted text analysis tools for studying conceptual history. The common understanding is that advertising in the state socialist countries – if there was any – was a kind of ‘socialist’ in character. Advertising was discussed in the Conference of Advertising Specialists organized in Prague in 1957, where the principles of socialist advertising were determined. In Poland, the theoretical discussion of the economists on the best ways to reform planned economies began in the mid-1950s. Practical handbooks on advertising were published since 1956. Starting from 1956 advertising and marketing were taught at the educational facilities in Poland. Similar developments took place also elsewhere in East Central Europe. The main sources of this paper are annual reports of the Polish Chamber of Foreign Trade in 1950-1981 (with some missing years), issues of economic magazine Życie Gospodarcze (The Economic Life) in 1950-1980, and entries of Polish encyclopedias in 1959-1967 on propaganda, advertising, sales promotion and marketing. The research question of the paper is how the concepts were understood in different public spheres in Poland, and how did the perception change over time. To what extent themes related to disseminating commercial information were discussed, and what meanings they were given, when discussed? What do the changes tell about the ability of inability of the Polish planned economic thinking to reform, and the internal hierarchies within it? The underlying philosophy of this paper is that in order to grasp an understanding of how certain concepts were understood, negotiated and how their understanding changed in a state socialist society, it is important to look at the perception in different media categories. In the socialist countries, like also elsewhere, things were discussed in different ways in different arena. The main newspaper tackled issues in a different way than a leisure magazine, or a professional magazine with restricted circulation, although they all were state funded and checked by the censorship office. Similarly, the texts were read in different ways and for different purposes, and partly by different people. In this paper I will categorize the analyzed texts into semi-public, professional public, and openly public categories.


5.4. Ilkka Jokipii & Virva Liski (University of Helsinki): Mapping the Finnish State Criminal Court Convictions of 1918: New Insights with Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis

Our aim is to approach Finnish State Criminal Court (FSCC) data with computational methods. Presentation will demonstrate the possibilities of these methods through two examples. We will discuss about possible new interpretations and questions raised by exploratory data visualizations. Data has been collected as a part of larger research project started in 2014. Project is supervised by Dr. Torsten Santavirta and has been funded by Finnish Academy and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR). Project is still running and the complete data set will consist of approximately 9000 records of FSCC convicts.


5.5. Anssi Jääskeläinen (Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences): Modernizing digital history

History and digital must go hand in hand, especially if the intention is to influence younger generation users. These users require new interaction methods like immersive 3D, augmented reality or Google like interface. A recently established R&D center Digitalia aims to preserve and provide into use historical materials, E-mails and AV for example. In order to view and even more importantly to understand these valuable materials e.g. after 20 years, digital technology is needed. The amount of digital material also grows exponentially. This leads to a situation where e.g. appraisal cannot be done by hand anymore. Automation is required.