Varpaisjärvi, Northern Savonia, Summer 2017.

About the author:

My name is Andrew Newby, I’m a historian of Europe during the “Long Nineteenth Century”, currently working at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. As an Irishman working in Finland, I became very interested in Finland’s Great Famine of the 1860s, and particularly in its relative (compared with the Irish disaster of the 1840s) lack of commemoration. I’ve always tried to get out and do fieldwork when possible, although my own research tends to involve long hours in archives. So in 2014 I started trying to locate and visit memorials to these “Great Hunger Years”. There are more details in this news item, and some more general reflections in this short documentary video. In 2017 I published an interim report on the sites that I’d found to date, but in order to keep things updated as easily as possible (and correct any errors), I have also put photos of 80+  memorials on Twitter. The Instagram account I had to accompany this site is now offline.

In Savonranta, July 2019.

About this site:

Despite the perceived lack of commemorative culture around Finland’s Great Hunger Years, I have now identified nearly one hundred memorials (as distinct from “sites of memory” and other structures such as grain stores which are related to the 1860s). This site is a companion to the Instagram account @finnishfaminememorials and is intended to help people find and visit memorials to Finland’s 1860s “Great Hunger Years.” I have divided the sites up roughly by province / groups of provinces. In most cases, a site is located by a pinned google maps location, although where I have not yet visited a site, I have only given a general address / location.

Karstula Belltower
In the lower part of the belfry at Karstula church is a knapsack preserved from the 1867-68 hunger years, containing the remains of some poor soul’s bark bread. This gruesome relic should be preserved, to remind future generations of our ancestors’ anguished history.” Suomalainen, 31 July 1895.
 There is no explicit memorial at Karstula to the 1860s famine, but the short article from 1895 is a good early example of a conscious effort to commemorate the tribulations of the Great Hunger Years.

For the winter of 2018-19 I have marked a handful of sites with (*) if I have not yet visited them in person. These entries will be shorter and contain fewer photos, but will be developed in the future after site visits. I know from experience that having such a vague notion of the site can be frustrating, and so I should add that everything here is added in good faith, but please don’t be angry with me if you can’t find a memorial. If you notice any changes or mistakes, of course, please do let me know. In general I am making “free translations” from Finnish or Swedish texts with an eye to style and readability from nineteenth-century originals to more-or-less modern English, unless there are cognate old-fashioned words which also make sense).

On the road in Savo – February 2017.