Skriftpraktiker i storfurstendömet Finland. Administrationens skriftpraktiker sedda genom arkivmaterial

  • Jannika Lassus
  • Mona Forsskåhl
  • Lieselott Nordman
  • Jennica Thylin-Klaus


Literacy practices in the Grand duchy of Finland. Literacy practices of the administration viewed through the archives.

In this article, we approach the period of the grand duchy of Finland 1809–1917 and its administrative literacy practices through an archive study of letters and supplique files. The documents analyzed come from the archives of three levels of authorities: the city of Helsinki, the governor of the county of Nyland (Uusimaa) and the emperor (the archives of the senate). We study the literacy events and draw conclusions of the literacy practices. Our focus is on the materiality of the documents, authors and scribes, language choice and themes. We place our findings in a social and historical setting, thus approaching the literacy practices from a multidisciplinary viewpoint (linguistics, translation studies and history). The theoretical and methodological approach follows New literacy studies (Barton 2007) and the sociolinguistics of writing (Lillis 2013, Blommaert 2008 & 2013). Our study maps the vast archive material and describes, through analyses of samples, the literacy practices of the administration. Our results show that the artefacts, the paper and the forms of writing goes through great changes during the period. The primary language of administration is Swedish. Finnish is used widely at the end of the period, while Russian is mainly used in the documents to the governor’s office. The population increase during the period is striking. More widespread education and urbanization also characterizes the period. In the beginning of the studied period, ordinary people turn to the city authorities directly, with assistance from scribes or lawyers. The suppliques to the emperor seem to be written with the help of scribes and officials as intermediators. Suppliques to the governor are written both directly and with assistance from scribes. At the end of the period it is more usual for people to write without professional assistance. The writers ask and make appeals and the themes vary from asking for documents or permissions to asking for reliefs from fees or taxes.

aug 19, 2020