Kaarle Krohn

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Kaarle Krohn.

Kaarle Krohn (May 10, 1863 – July 19, 1933) was a Finnish folklorist, professor and developer of the geographic-historic method of folklore research. He was born in Helsinki. He was the son of journalist and poet Julius Krohn, and his sister was Aino Kallas, a Finnish author. Krohn is best known outside of Finland for his contributions to international folktale research. He devoted most of his life to the study of the epic poetry that forms the basis for the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.[1]

Early life[edit]

Krohn passed his matriculation exams in 1880, earned his candidacy degree in 1883 at University of Helsinki, and completed his doctorate in 1888. At the age of 18, he conducted field research in northern Karelia. From January 1884 to June 1885, he traveled through Finland collecting samples of Finnish folklore. During his collecting, he focused mainly on folktales because he thought they had been overlooked in the search for epic songs. His doctoral thesis, "Bär (Wolf) und Fuchs, eine nordische Tiermärchenkette [Bear (wolf) and fox: A Nordic animal-tale chain (1888)", based on his folktale collection and using his father's historical-geographical method, won him an immediate international reputation and brought him fast academic advancement.[1]


In 1888, he was named docent of Finnish and comparative literature at University of Helsinki. In 1889, he was named acting professor of Finnish and Finnish literature and in 1898, extraordinary personal professor of Finnish and comparative folklore. In 1898, Krohn became a full professor at the University of Helsinki for Finnish and comparative folklore.[2] Later, in 1908, when a permanent chair in Finnish and comparative folklore was established, he became its first occupant. In 1907, he created the Federation of Folklore Fellows' Communications with his friends Johannes Bolte and Axel Olrik. In 1917, he became a chairman of the Finnish Literature Society (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura).[1] Krohn was a co-founder of the magazines Virittäjä (1896) and Finno-ugrische Forschungen (Finno-Ugric research) together with Emil Nestor Setälä (1901). He was also famous for his 'historical-geographical' approach to comparing folklore texts.[3] In 1918, Krohn published Kalevalankysymyksia (Kalevala Questions), a two-volume hand book designed for students of Finnish Folk poetry. Eight years later, he reworked the book for a forgien audience, added folktale examples and published it as Die folkloristiche Arbeitsmethode (Folklore Methodology), which since that time has served as the standard reference work for the Finnish Method.[1]

In 1932, a year before he died, Krohn returned once more to folklore research. He published a review of international folktale scholarship that was based largely on the methodological approach he had developed, called Übersicht über einige Resultate der Märchenforschung (A review of some results of folktale research).[1]


Eliel Aspelin-Haapkylä als Urheber der neueren volkskundlichen Sammelarbeit der Finnischen Litteraturgesellschaft. Helsinki 1920 (Folklore Fellows' Communications 35).
K. F. Karjalainen. Helsinki 1921 (Folklore Fellows' Communications 40)
Magische Ursprungsrunen der Finnen (Magic Runes of the Finns). Painettu Keravalla 1924 (Folklore Fellows' Communications 52).
Die folkloristische Arbeitsmethode (The Folklorist Work Method). Erläutert von Kaarle Krohn. Oslo 1926.
Übersicht über einige Resultate der Märchenforschung (Overview of the Results of Fairy-Tale Research). Helsinki 1931 (Folklore Fellows' Communications 96).
Antti Aarne. Helsinki 1926 (Folklore Fellows' Communications 64).[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Mary Ellen Brown Bruce A. Rosenberg Peter Harle Kathy Sitarski, Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature 1998
  2. ^ University of Helsinki Folklore Department
  3. ^ Wolf-Knuts, Ulrika. On the history of comparison in folklore studies.
  4. ^ German Wikipedia on Kaarle Krohn