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.