Director General's Report: The National Archives Service in 2015


In March 2014, the National Archives proposed that the archive of the Suenjel Skolt Sámi community be included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. Finally, in October 2015, it was time for celebration when the archive was selected from among a large number of nominees for inclusion in the internationally significant register.

The archive is the real gem of the Sámi community’s cultural heritage documents; the oldest one is from 1601 and the most recent from 1775. The selection demonstrates the exceptional value of the archive among the documented cultural heritage of the world.

The Finnish National Committee for the register was set up in 2014, but it really established its operating methods in 2015. The committee issues proposals to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register committee on collections that should be included in the international Memory of the World Register, maintains the national Memory of the World Register on nationally significant documents and collections, and promotes major library collections and archives and UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme.

The Memory of the World Register has continually become more important in UNESCO's sector of activity. For Finland’s international integration, it is a big step that the Director-General of UNESCO appointed Jussi Nuorteva a member of the International Advisory Committee for 2015–2018. The committee prepares Memory of the World proposals for the Director-General of UNESCO to process.

The coverage of Sámiland at the Turku Book Fair in September 2015 was the most extensive ever. The three-day fair was attended by about 23,000 people in total. The National Archives organised a seminar entitled “The Rights of the Sámi in the Light of Documents”, which addressed the Skolt Sámi archive and its impact on the position and rights of the Skolt Sámi community. The seminar also included a discussion on Sámi rights in modern times, and covered how the Sámi community has been affected by Sámi activist/singer Elsa Laula, who convened a general meeting of the Sámi in 1917.  

The Skolt Sámi archive’s nomination and inclusion in UNESCO's register and the content of the Turku Book Fair garnered extensive media coverage. Saa’mi Nue’tt, a Skolt Sámi language and culture association, and the Skolt village meeting granted the Skolt of the Year 2015 award to the National Archives and the Sámi Archives.


In 2015, the National Archives Service took a new approach to preparing its strategy. Innovation teams consisting of specialists assessed the state the Service is in and created visions for the future. After that, they evaluated value perceptions, developed strategic indicators and engaged in active discussion. The starting point was that all employees would contribute to preparing the strategy.

Digitisation is one of the main projects of the current government. Its goals emphasise publicly available information for developing new commercial information services and products.

The National Archives Service possesses the permanently stored information of almost the entire state sector. The main thing underlined in the strategy was the option of disposing of the original paper versions of digitised material without affecting their legal acceptability as evidence. In that case, no new archives construction will be needed after the central archives are built in Mikkeli in 2018.  

Digitisation requires new kinds of information management expertise. The National Archives Service prepared for future challenges by reforming its organisation to be an information management service organisation with national operations.


The main research-related activity of the National Archives Service was to identify changes in the research process and to account for the requirements the changes impose on services and operations. Cooperation with universities was more extensive than previously.

The archives of Juha Pentikäinen (owned by the University of Lapland), professor of comparative religion, were stored permanently in the Sámi Archives. The archives, which include photographs, documents, recordings and literature, are a collection of research material related to ethnography and the study of religion from the 1960s to this millennium, and also older material. Researchers were not only very interested in the extensive archives of Pentikäinen, but also in the private archives of Max Jacobson and former president Mauno Koivisto.


The National Archives Service continued its varied exhibition activities as it had in previous years. The poster exhibitions “Curt von Stedingk – favourite of parlours in the Savo war” and “Pro Finlandia. Finland's road to independence. Perspective: France and Italy” toured the provincial archives.

A second Pro Finlandia exhibition opened at the National Archives at the end of the year. The exhibition focuses on Finland's attempts to establish its independence from the perspectives of Germany, the UK, Austria and Hungary. A book on the topic was published at the same time.

Cooperation with the Helsinki-Seura association continued in autumn 2015 when the familiar Wednesday evening lectures gathered interested people in the old researchers’ room on Rauhankatu. The lessons addressed the growth of Helsinki, the capital of Finland, on the basis of the history of construction stored in the archives.

Jussi Nuorteva
Director General, National Archives