Finland Merchant Marine

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Merchant marines are sailors who work on commercial ships. Finland had a large merchant marine enterprise that traveled and traded worldwide.

Among the records of the Finnish merchant marine are:

Records of the navigational schools [merenkulkukoulu/navigationsskola].

Records of the sailors’ houses [merimieshuone/sjömanshus].

The sailors’ houses recruited and registered sailors. They made crew assignments for each ship and recorded the ships’ crews as they embarked and disembarked. These records contain individual names, birth dates, birthplaces, marital status, position on the ship, salary, and previous ship assignments, with some ports listed for each journey.

Records of Finnish Lutheran churches or sailors’ houses in foreign ports.

Merchant Marine Records [Kauppalaivasto/Handelsflottan]

Research use: Merchant marine records are a valuable research tool. Finland had a large number of Finnish merchant marines; many of them deserted or emigrated and ended up in the United States (Alaska, Hawaii, Pacific coast, Atlantic coast), Canada, and Australia. These records are very valuable in linking these individuals to their Finnish origins.

Record type: These are records of sailors on commercial ships. Finland had a large merchant marine enterprise that traveled and traded worldwide. In the nineteenth century Finland provided the bulk of the merchant marine services for the Russian Empire. Among the records of the merchant marine are records of the navigational schools [merenkulkukoulu/navigationsskola] and records of the sailors’ houses [merimieshuone/ sjömanshus]. The sailors houses recruited and registered sailors. They made crew assignments for each ship and recorded the ships’ crews as they embarked and disembarked.

Time period: about 1800 to present.

Contents: These records contain names of individual sailors, birth dates and places, marital status, position on the ship, salary, and previous ship assignments, with some ports listed for each journey. They make note of desertions and deaths.

Location: At provincial archives and in the municipal archives of some coastal cities. Recent records would be at the schools or sailors’ institutions.

Percentage in Family History Library: About 40%.

Population coverage: 5%.

Reliability: Very good.[1]

Family History Library Collection

Since there were many Finnish merchant marines, these records are a valuable source for researchers. To find them, look in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under Finland and the main port cities:

FINLAND - MERCHANT MARINE

FINLAND, [COUNTY], [CITY] - MERCHANT MARINE

FINLAND, [COUNTY], [CITY] - BUSINESS RECORDS AND COMMERCE

FINLAND, [COUNTY], [CITY] - OCCUPATIONS

FINLAND, [COUNTY], [CITY] - SCHOOLS

FINLAND, [COUNTY], [CITY] - TOWN RECORDS

References

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Finland,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2003.