Society of Swedish Literature in Finland

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Society of Swedish Literature in Finland
TypeLearned society
HeadquartersKruununhaka, Helsinki, Finland
Fred Karlsson

The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland r.f., abbr. SLS) is a scholarly society for the collection, archiving and dissemination of knowledge about Finland-Swedish culture. SLS publishes scholarly literature, maintains archives and libraries, funds research and awards literary and scholarly prizes and scholarships. SLS’s activity is made possible by private donations. SLS is one of the largest managers of private charitable funds in Finland.

SLS was established in 1885 in memory of the Finnish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, during a time when it was felt that the Swedish language and Swedish culture in Finland were under threat from the Finnish side. Leading cultural figures endorsed the need for an organization to preserve and mediate the Swedish cultural heritage in Finland. At the same time they sought to strengthen the identity of the Swedish-speaking population, and its understanding of its own culture.

Today SLS has over 1,100 members, with around 100 employees in Helsinki and Vaasa.

SLS as a collector and mediator of material about Finland-Swedish culture[edit]

SLS’s main office in Helsinki. Photo: Markus Lång.

The SLS archives are a rich source of knowledge about Swedish-speaking Finland, its history, traditions, literature, languages, everyday life and folk music. SLS documents contemporary society and accepts donations of cultural and historical material comprising everything from manuscripts and photographs to audio and video recordings, and maps.

SLS is making an increasing amount of its archive material available online. The material can be found on SLS’s own website, on the imaging site Flickr, in the EU’s digital library Europeana and at the Finnish search portal Finna, where you can also search the SLS union catalogue. The archive material that SLS publishes online is available for free use. The SLS archive also compiles teaching materials for schools.

SLS and research[edit]

The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland is the largest funder of Finland-Swedish-related research in the humanities and social sciences. Major areas of research include history, society, Swedish language, literature, ethnology, folklore and musicology.

SLS funds research projects conducted at universities or colleges. Each year SLS awards funds for 1–3 new projects. Cooperation with universities, research institutions and funding bodies in Finland and abroad is an important part of the Society’s activity. SLS organizes seminars and other events related to current research.

SLS as a publisher of scholarly literature[edit]


SLS publishes scholarly literature and nonfiction about Finland-Swedish culture, language, society, and history. SLS also specializes in scholarly editions of Finnish literary authors and publishes annotated critical editions of source documents such as letters, diaries and travel books. All publications undergo peer review.

Some 15 titles are published each year.

Through cooperation with Swedish publishers the books reach readers in Sweden. Some titles are also published in translation. SLS also publishes folk music, both from its own archive collections and in collaboration with folk musicians.

Current major releases[edit]

  • The letters and diaries of the Finnish Arabist G. A. Wallin (1811–1852) are being published in a critical and annotated edition.
  • The poetry, prose, criticism and letters of the literary modernist Henry Parland (1908–1930) are being published in a critical edition.
  • Zacharias Topelius (1818–1898) was a poet, short story writer, newspaper editor, social activist and professor of history. His extensive writings are a literary monument to nineteenth century Finland. The critical and annotated Zacharias Topelius Skrifter is the first complete edition of his works. It is being published digitally ( and is freely available. Selected writings will also be issued in print.

Prizes and scholarships awarded by SLS[edit]

SLS is one of the largest managers of private funds in Finland. The funds are created from donations and bequests. SLS owns and manages the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland (Svenska kulturfonden), which is one of the largest funds in Finland. The Society annually awards a number of grants and scholarships from the funds. Most of them are given to graduate students working in SLS’s fields of activity. The funds also support other activities in accordance with the donors’ wishes. Researchers whose mother tongue is not Swedish but are researching a topic that concerns Swedish-speaking Finland may apply to SLS for grants and scholarships.

SLS annually awards literary prizes to authors and researchers who write in Swedish.

The SLS Special Research Library[edit]

The library in Helsinki specializes in literary and linguistic research as well as personal and cultural history, focusing on Swedish culture in Finland. The library contains several valuable antiquarian book collections as well as scholarly literature old and new.

In Vaasa there is a reference library with special emphasis on literature about local history, ethnology, folklore and folk music.

The library catalogue is available on the SLS website.

External links[edit]