Archival Science

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 289–307 | Cite as

A marshall in love. Remembering and forgetting queer pasts in the Finnish archives

  • Riikka Taavetti
Original Paper


This article analyses the formation of the queer archives in Finland. In Finland, the close links between the civil society and the state affect the archiving of social movements’ history. One of the publicly funded private central archives, the Labour Archives (Työväen Arkisto), has taken responsibility of preserving the documents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) past. This includes documents of activism and associations as well as personal archives and narratives. The article presents the position of the Finnish LGBT collection within the Finnish archival sector and evaluates it in the light of archival theory. The Finnish model of queer archives offers an example of preserving queer pasts in a social history archive that is neither strictly a mainstream archival institution nor an independent activist archive. The article describes the development of queer history and the need to find sources telling about queer lives and discusses the role of the archival institutions and archival science in remembering and forgetting queer pasts. The article reflects also how the archival policies and archival practices affect which pasts are officially remembered and which are forgotten.


Archival activism Finland LGBT Queer 



The earlier versions of this article have been discussed in the “Constructing and Preserving Queer Pasts: Archives, Communities and Activists” panel in the European Social Science History Conference in Vienna, April 2014 and in the “Sex + Gender + Archives” pop-up workshop organized by Archive Futures in Tampere, May 2014. The author wants to thank the participants of these discussions, as well as the anonymous referees of Archival Science, for their insightful comments and fruitful suggestions.


  1. Alapuro R (1988) State and revolution in Finland. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergman S (2002) Politics of feminism. Autonomous feminist movements in Finland and West Germany from the 1960s to the 1980s. Åbo Akademi University Press, ÅboGoogle Scholar
  3. Bronski M (2011) A queer history of the United States. Revisioning American history. Beacon Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  4. Burke P (2001) The new history: its past and its future. In: Burke P (ed) New perspectives on historical writing, 2nd edn. Polity Press, Cambridge, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  5. Butler J (1990) Gender trouble. Feminism and the subversion of identity. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Carter R (2006) Of things said and unsaid: power, archival silences, and power in silence. Archivaria 61:215–233Google Scholar
  7. Cook T (1992) Mind over matter: towards a new theory of archival appraisal. In: Craig BL (ed) The archival imagination: essays in honour of Hugh A. Taylor. Association of Canadian Archivists, Ottawa, pp 38–70Google Scholar
  8. Cvetkovich A (2002) In the archives of lesbian feelings: documentary and popular culture. Camera Obscura 17(1):107–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cvetkovich A (2003) An archive of feelings. Trauma, sexuality, and lesbian public cultures. Duke University Press, DurhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cvetkovich A (2012) Queer archival futures: case study Los Angeles. E-misfericá 9. Accessed 5 May 2015
  11. Davis NZ (1999) Who owns history? In: Ollila A (ed) Historical perspectives on memory. Studia Historica 61. Suomen Historiallinen Seura, Helsinki, pp 19–34Google Scholar
  12. Dunye C, Swimar B, Juhasz A, Turner G, Walker V, Bronson LM, First-Run Features (Film) (1997) The watermelon woman. First-Run Features, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Eichhorn K (2010) D.I.Y. Collectors, archiving scholars, and activist librarians: legitimizing feminist knowledge and cultural production since 1990. Women’s Stud 39:622–646. doi: 10.1080/00497878.2010.490716 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Flinn A (2014) Activist spaces, archival places—alternative archives, libraries and resource centres and the production of history. In: Unpublished conference paper. European social science history conference, Vienna, 23rd–26th April 2014Google Scholar
  15. Flinn A, Stevens M, Shepherd E (2009) Whose memories, whose archives? Independent community archives, autonomy and the mainstream. Arc Sci 9:71–86. doi: 10.1007/s10502-009-9105-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Forman R (2002) Randy on the rand: Portuguese African labor and the discourse on “unnatural vice” in the transvaal in the early twentieth century. J Hist Sex 11:570–609. doi: 10.1353/sex.2003.0037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Foucault M (1978) The history of sexuality. Volume 1: an introduction. Allen Lane, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Gentile P (2009) Resisted access? National security, the access to information act, and queer(ing) archives. Archivaria 68:141–158Google Scholar
  19. Harris V (2002) The archival sliver: power, memory, and archives in South Africa. Arc Sci 2:63–86. doi: 10.1007/BF02435631 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hemmings C (2002) Bisexual spaces. A geography of sexuality and gender. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Henttonen P (2007) Records, rules and speech acts. Acta Universitatis Tamperensis 1246. Tampere University Press, TampereGoogle Scholar
  22. Herzog D (2011) Sexuality in Europe. A twentieth century history. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hupaniittu O (2010) Marshal in a purple corset. Mannerheim ridiculed, outrageous outbursts and the freedom of speech. In: Bilsel C, Esmark K, Kžzžlyürek N, Rastrick Ó (eds) Constructing cultural identity, representing social power. Plus-Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp 60–75Google Scholar
  24. Jagose A (1996) Queer theory. An introduction. New York University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Jeffreys S (1993) Does it matter if they did it? In: Lesbian History Group (ed) Not a passing phase. Reclaiming lesbians in history 1840–1985. The Women’s Press, London, pp 19–28Google Scholar
  26. Jørgensen O (2014) Access to information in the Nordic Countries. A comparison of the laws of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland and international rules. Nordicom, GothenburgGoogle Scholar
  27. Juvonen T (2002) Varjoelämää ja julkisia salaisuuksia [Shadow lives and public secrets]. Vastapaino, TampereGoogle Scholar
  28. Juvonen T (2006a) Introduction: queering the hegemonies of LGBT historiography. SQS 1:7–16. Accessed 5 May 2015
  29. Juvonen T (2006b) Shadow lives and public secrets: queering gendered spaces in 1950s and 60 s Tampere. SQS 1:49–70 Accessed 5 May 2015
  30. Juvonen T (2012) Queering archives and museums—raising consciousness about preserving LGBT history in Finland. In: A paper presented at the LGBTI ALMS 2012 conference, Amsterdam, 1–3 August 2012. Accessed 5 May 2015
  31. Juvonen T (2014) Queer archival activism. In: Carotenuto S, Kirin RJ, Prlenda S (eds) A feminist critique of knowledge production. Orientale University Press, Napoli, pp 175–185Google Scholar
  32. Kauranen K (2007) Did writing lead to social mobility? Case studies of ordinary writers in nineteenth-century Finland. In: Lyons M (ed) Ordinary writings, personal narratives: writing practices in 19th and early 20th-century Europe. Peter Lang, Bern, pp 51–68Google Scholar
  33. Kilkki J (2004) Bearmania: frosting Finnish archival practice with imported archival theory. COMMA 1:43–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Löfström J (1998) A premodern legacy: the “easy” criminalization of homosexual acts between women in the Finnish Penalcode 1889. In: Löfström J (ed) Scandinavian homosexualities. Essays on gay and lesbian studies. Harrington Park Press, New York, pp 53–79Google Scholar
  35. Love H (2009) Emotional rescue. In: Halperin D, Traub V (eds) Gay shame. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 256–276Google Scholar
  36. Luhtakallio E (2012) Practicing democracy. Local activism and politics in France and Finland. Palgrave MacMillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Maliniemi K (2009) Public records and minorities: problems and possibilities for Sámi and Kven. Arc Sci 9:15–27. doi: 10.1007/s10502-009-9104-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Maynard S (2009) Police/archives. Archivaria 68:159–182Google Scholar
  39. Mizielinska J (2006) Queering Moominland: the problems of translating queer theory into a non-American context. SQS 1:87–104 Accessed 5 May 2015
  40. Muños JE (1996) Ephemera as evidence: introductory notes to queer acts. Women Perform 8(2):5–16. doi: 10.1080/07407709608571228 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nordberg E (2003) A Nordic archival tradition. Arc Sci 3:85–95. doi: 10.1007/BF02435652 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Orrman E (2004) Legislation concerning access to and secrecy of official records, archives, and personal data in the Nordic countries. COMMA 1:113–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pedersen K, Edelberg P: The Danish gay and lesbian archive. Unpublished manuscriptGoogle Scholar
  44. Perez H (2005) You can have my brown body and eat it, too. Soc Text 23(3–4):171–191. doi: 10.1215/01642472-23-3-4_84-85-171 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Porter R (2001) History of the body reconsidered. In: Burke P (ed) New perspectives on historical writing, 2nd edn. Polity Press, Cambridge, pp 233–260Google Scholar
  46. Potter CB (2006) Queer Hoover: sex, lies, and political history. J Hist Sex 15:355–381. doi: 10.1353/sex.2007.0021 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rahikainen M, Fellman S (2012) On historical writing and evidence. In: Fellman S, Rahikainen M (eds) Historical knowledge. In quest of theory, method and evidence. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne, pp 5–35Google Scholar
  48. Rawson KJ (2009) Accessing transgender//desiring queer(er?) Archival Logics. Archivaria 68:123–140Google Scholar
  49. Roque Ramírez H, Boyd NA (2012) Introduction: close encounters. In: Boyd N, Roque Ramírez H (eds) Bodies of evidence. The practice of queer oral history. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 1–20Google Scholar
  50. Ruskola T (2005) What is left of sodomy after Lawrence vs. Texas Soc Text 23(3–4):235–249. doi: 10.1215/01642472-23-3-4_84-85-235 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rydström J (2008) Varför behövs transhistoria? [Why is transhistory needed?]. Lambda Nordica 12:64–77Google Scholar
  52. Schmidt H (2008) Colonial intimacy: the Rechenberg scandal and homosexuality in German East Africa. J Hist Sex 17:25–59. doi: 10.1353/sex.2008.0011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schwartz J, Cook T (2002) Archives, records and power: the making of modern memory. Arc Sci 2:1–19. doi: 10.1007/BF02435628 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sharpe J (2001) History from below. In: Burke P (ed) New perspectives on historical writing, 2nd edn. Polity Press, Cambridge, pp 25–42Google Scholar
  55. Stryker S (2008) Transgender history. Seal Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  56. Svenson A (2004) The nuances of the Nordic: archival commonalities and distinctions of the north. COMMA 1:21–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Taavetti R (2013) Rivien välistä. Seksuaali- ja sukupuolivähemmistöjen historian tutkimuksen lähteet ja suomalaiset arkistoratkaisut [Between the lines. Sources in sexuality and gender minorities’ history and Finnish archive solutions.] Master’s thesis, University of Jyväskylä. Accessed 5 May 2015
  58. Wakimoto D, Bruce C, Partridge H (2013) Archivist as activist: lessons from three queer community archives in California. Arc Sci 13:293–316. doi: 10.1007/s10502-013-9201-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wilton T (1995) Lesbian studies: setting an agenda. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yaco S, Hardy BB (2013) Historians, archivists, and social activism: benefits and costs. Arch Sci 13:253–272. doi: 10.1007/s10502-012-9187-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finnish Youth Research SocietyHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations