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A census is a count and description of the population. In Finland records similar to census records are called henkikirjat/mantalslängder. These records were a type of population registration kept for taxation purposes.
Various tax lists were kept from the 1530s on; however, they are not as comprehensive as the henkikirjat/mantalsängder, which began in 1634.
Another record similar to a census is the communion book. For more information, see Finland Church Records.
The henkikirjat/mantalslängder precede the earliest church records and can frequently be used to extend family lines beyond what is recorded in the church records. They also can be used to fill in information where the church records have gaps or are missing.
Various age groups were included in the early henkikirjat/mantalslängder:
1634–1651: persons over age 12
1652–1855: persons between ages 15 and 63
1655 on: persons between ages 15 and 63 and heads of households over age 63
Before 1765 some people did not have to register for the henkikirjat/mantalslängder because they did not have to pay the associated taxes:
From 1640 on, the nobility and their servants did not have to register.
From 1652 on, owners of large estates did not have to register.
Soldiers generally did not have to register while they served.
Very poor people did not have to register.
After 1765 the government began to use the henkikirjat/mantalslängder for statistical purposes; therefore, everyone—including people exempt from the taxes—was required to register. People gradually complied.
Using Census Records
Before using original census records, you should first use the Suomen asutuksen yleisluettelo/ Generalregistret över bosättningen i Finland (General Register of Settlement in Finland). This register includes 1539 to 1809. See Finland Public Records for more information.
The henkikirjat/mantalslängder records are grouped in two time periods:
All of the records have a similar format, listing the districts, parishes, and villages. Within each village, the taxpayers are listed by household. The head of the household is listed by name. Other members of the household are indicated by numbers in various columns. In many of the later records, all members of the household are listed by name. Ages are frequently mentioned.
The henkikirjat/mantalslängder for 1634 to 1809 are part of the Uudempi tilikirjakokoelma/Nyare räkenskapssamlingen (New Collection of Accounts). See Finland Public Records for a description of this source.
You can find these records by looking in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
FINLAND, [COUNTY] - CENSUS
FINLAND, [COUNTY] - MILITARY RECORDS
FINLAND, [COUNTY] - PUBLIC RECORDS
The catalog has two sets of records under the same title, Uudempi tilikirjakokoelma/Nyare räkenskapssamlingen (New Collection of Accounts):
Henkikirjat/mantalslängder. The catalog entry refers to the year and number of each volume. The catalog entry does not describe the records.
Other records. Besides the henkikirjat/ mantalslängder, this collection also includes other records, such as tithes, general accounts, and so forth. At the beginning of each volume is a list of the contents.
An index to the henkikirjat/mantalslängder is available for this time period. It is organized by civil districts [kihlakunta/härad] and cities and specifies the page number on which the district or city begins within each census volume. This index is:
Luettelo henkikirjamikrofilmien käyttökopioista 1634–1808/Förteckning över brukskopior av mikrofilmer av mantalslängder 1634–1808 (Inventory of Microfilms of the 1634–1808 Censuses). Ed. Matti Walta. 2nd rev. ed. Helsinki: Valtionarkisto, 1989. (FHL book 948.97 A33La 1989)
To find Finnish henkikirjat/mantalslängder that were kept from 1810 to 1860, look in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
FINLAND, [COUNTY] - CENSUS - 1810–1860
During this time period, the henkikirjat/ mantalslänslängder were only filmed every five years. These films have internal indexes to the districts and parishes indicating initial page numbers.