History of the Kalevala Society

1911 was de facto the year the Kalevala Society was founded, even though the rules of the foundation were approved by the National Board of Patents and Registration in 1919. During discussions between the founding members in the summer of 1911, they agreed that the aim of the Society would, in broad terms, be the promotion of co-operation between the arts and sciences, with a national focus.

Photo of founding meeting at the Pirtti studio of Alpo Sailo, at Erottaja Street in Helsinki, summer 1911.

Photo of founding meeting at the Pirtti studio of Alpo Sailo, at Erottaja Street in Helsinki, summer 1911.

During the next few years, an increasing number of active members would often assemble to discuss the goals of the Society. The Society’s mission would be to promote the collection, publishing, research and use for artistic purposes of Finnish folklore, as well as to build the Kalevala House. All of the relevant scientific and artistic accomplishments would be collected in this house. This idea was never realised, but lived on mainly as the dream of Alpo Sailo.

The ideological aims of the founders of the Kalevala Society were Karelianism, interest in the Kalevala, as well as in the land and culture from where most of the poems in the Kalevala were collected. After the Kalevala House idea fell through, the concrete task of the Society became the publication of the Yearbook, from 1921 onward, granting awards to folklore experts and researchers from the 1960s onward, establishing connections with Kalevala translators and the dissemination of information relating to the Kalevala.

Since it was founded, the Kalevala Society has operated in the form of a foundation. Currently, the Society focuses on transmitting, researching and publishing information relating to the Kalevala and the Finnish cultural heritage, as well as the promotion of Kalevala-related art. The Society is engaged in international co-operation with Kalevala translators, illustrators and researchers.

Proposal by Akseli Gallen-Kallela for membership brooch of the Kalevala Society, 29 October 1919. Pencil, watercolour and felt-tip pen.

Proposal by Akseli Gallen-Kallela for membership brooch of the Kalevala Society, 29 October 1919. Pencil, watercolour and felt-tip pen.

Administration of the Kalevala Society from 1919 Onward

Chairs:
E. N. Setälä 1919–1935
Otto Manninen 1935–1937
Onni Okkonen 1937–1942
A.O. Väisänen 1942–1962
Matti Kuusi 1963–1975
Aimo Turunen 1975–1981
Pekka Laaksonen 1981–2007
Seppo Knuuttila 2007–

Vice-Chairs:
From 1933 onward two vice-chairs.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela 1919–1932
Uno Harva 1930–1931
Otto Manninen 1932–1934
Emil Wikström 1932–1942
Albert Hämäläinen 1935–1941
Aarne Äyräpää 1941–1956
Alpo Sailo 1943–1954
Yrjö Kilpinen 1954–1959
Ilmari Heikinheimo 1957–1961
Viljo Kojo 1960–1962
Uuno Klami 1961–1962
Sulo Haltsonen 1962–1971
Erkki Ala-Könni 1963–1968
Pertti Virtaranta 1969–1989
Väinö Kaukonen 1972–1983
Heikki Kirkinen 1990–1994
Hannes Sihvo 1984–2002
Heikki Laitinen 1995–2004
Seppo Knuuttila 2002–2004
From 2004 onward one vice-chair.
Seppo Knuuttila 2002–2006
Hannu Saha 2006–2014
Hanna Snellman 2014–

Treasurers:
Otto Lumme 1919–1922
Antti Hiltunen 1922–1942
O.G. Nevanlinna 1942–1954
Lauri K. Soini 1954–1960
Eero Harkia 1961–1975
Mauno Turunen 1975–1988
Olli-Pekka Mikkola 1988–1995
Kyösti Järvinen 1996–2004
Marketta Jussila 2004–2014
Matti Sallamaa 2014–

Secretaries:
Uno Harva 1920–1922
U. T. Sirelius 1922–1929
A.O. Väisänen 1930–1941
Väinö Kaukonen 1942–1948
Sulo Haltsonen 1948–1957
Erkki Ala-Könni 1957–1959
Pentti Koskimies 1959–1963
Yrjö Larmola 1963–1965
Vuokko Kivisaari 1965–1967
Hannes Sihvo 1967–1972
Jukka Kukkonen 1972–1974
Satu Apo 1974–1975
Saima-Liisa Laatunen 1976–1978
Eira Penttinen 1978–1982
Marjatta Jauhiainen 1982–1990
Sirkka-Liisa Mettomäki 1990–2001

Executive director:
Ulla Piela 2002–