The oldest documents – the official records and accounts of the Helsinki journeymen tanners – extend as far back as 1785. The oldest documents relating to labour organisations date from the 1890’s and the most recent material is from the current year. The archival material occupies over 3 300 metres of shelf space. The reference library contains 14 000 titles, the audio recording collection almost 10 000 tapes and the picture collection includes 1 100 0000 photographs, 7 000 posters and 570 works of art.
The archival collections include 5000 archives of labour organisations (such as the Finnish Communist Party and its local associations from all over the country, organisations of the people’s democratic movement and trade union organisations), over 1700 archives of civil society organisations (cultural associations, theatres, house committees, educational institutions, hobby clubs, societies, peace organisations). Special collections include, among other files, the Finnish civil war 1918 and political imprisonments 1919-1944. The Collections of personal papers include papers of almost 450 activists of the labour movement, artists, writers and working class families. Memoirs and interviews, biographical material and sound recordings of over 4000 persons are also available.
- Archives of organisations
A. The organisations of old labour movement, before 1918
B. The Finnish Communist Party 1918-1990 (Party’s national, district and local organisations)
C. Organisations of the left-wing mass movement in the 1920s and 1930s
D. Organisation of the People’s Democratic Movement (central, regional and local organisations)
- The Democratic League for the Finnish People
- The Democratic League of Finnish Women
- The Democratic Youth League of Finland/The Left Youth of Finland
- The Socialist Students’ Union
- The Democratic Pioneers’ League of Finland
- The Left Alliance
E. Trade Union Organisations (incl. Trade unions of construction, transport, weaving, rubber and leather workers, etc.)
F. Other organisations (archives of cultural, educational, environmental, peace and solidarity organisations, workers’ meeting halls, friendship societies, social movements etc.)
- Archives of workers’ newspapers and printing houses
- Special collections
A. The Finnish Civil War of 1918
B. Leaflets and periodicals produced by workers’ industrial organisations
C. Material produced for cultural activities in workers’ organisations (songs, poems, plays etc.)
D. Workers’ living conditions (employment references and contracts, pay slips, documents concerning working conditions, etc.)
E. Political imprisonment in Finland in 1919-1944 (lists, reports of legal proceedings, newspaper cutting, personal documents, letters, legal and illegal material from prisons, etc.)
F. The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 (documents of Finnish volunteers of the International Brigades, solidarity campaigns organised in Finland
U. Alternative leaflets and periodicals in the 1960s and 1970s
- Collections of newspaper cuttings and reproductions
- Private papers of persons (incl. leaders and members of the left-wing labour movement, politicians, writers, artists, working men and women; collections comprise letters, diaries, manuscipts, documents related to work, political activities and hobbies of the persons concerned, newspaper cuttings, photographs, etc.)
- Memoirs and interviews
- Biographical collections
- Sound recordings (records, tapes, cassettes, videos)
- Reference Library
- Collections of photographs
- Artistic holdings
In English | På Svenska | Suomeksi
The People’s Archives maintained by the Social Archives Foundation is the central archives of the Finnish left-wing labour movement and civil society organisations.
00530 Helsinki Finland
Tel. +358-(0)44-721 0320,
Tel, photo archive :
Reading room open from
Tuesday to Friday 9 am – 4 pm
The People’s Archives was established in 1945, right after the Second World War to be the central archives of the Communist Party of Finland (The Communist Party of Finland was created after civil war 1918 and it was prohibited in Finland during 1918-1944). The institution has received statutory aid since 1975.
The People’s Archives collects, preserves, arranges and catalogues archives and other material related to the social and cultural history of the left-wing labour movement, civil society organisations and the working class in Finland.
The Archives’ collections are at the disposal of researchers and the public. The main card index, the archive catalogues, card index of the library, catalogues of the recordings and the picture collection are available. Most of the material is catalogued electronically. The archival database, electronic catalogue of the library, and the image database can be accessed by the researchers. The archival database is reached via internet http://www.kansanarkisto.fi/tietokanta.htm and the image database http://www.arjenhistoria.fi.