Finland is one of the few countries worldwide having complete population registers dating from the pre-industrial era. Comparatively, within Europe, the demographic transition in Finland took place relatively recently, mostly during the 20th century. The population was almost exclusively agrarian (supplemented by fishing) and lacked most innovations of the modern era until the latter half of 19th century. The whole population were Lutheran and local clergymen were by law required to submit to the state accurate censuses of birth, migration, marriage and death events of each parish in the country since the 17th century. These data provide some of the most reliable sources of demographic data on old human populations, and relative to other long-term data available on birds and mammals, potentially one of the most detailed sources of data for individual-level variation in survival and reproduction. Our study period 1700-1900) ends before industrialism and thus before more liberal economics, healthcare improvements and modern birth-control methods which had significant effects on survivorship and standard of living in Finland. Inland populations often lived under food-restricted conditions and famines were common throughout the study period, whereas the seasonal variation in food conditions and mortality was smaller in south-west Finland.
Data on survival and reproduction: With grants from the Academy of Finland, we have collected a large (n=20,000 people), individual-based data-set using these historical church records, that covers the full life-history of three complete generations of pre-industrial Finns living in five parishes in two ecologically different areas (productive archipelago vs. poorly productive mainland areas) between 1720 and 1900. This data set is multigenerational, and allows following the survival and reproductive history of each maternal and paternal line up to the grand-offspring level. These data include full birth, death and marriage information enabling determining for each individual: survival; age at first and last breeding; inter-birth intervals; offspring survival and adulthood reproductive success; lifetime fecundity; lifetime reproductive success; and fitness. The data base currently contains around 2200 families, with average family size about 6 and 60% of born children surviving to adulthood. About 80-90% of individuals were successfully followed until death and cause of death was recorded. Paternity is known for all individuals based on the assumption that male in the family was the genetic father of wifes children; extra-pair paternities are likely to have been low in this population given that less than 2% of children were born outside marriage. During the study era, the predominant household contained both (grand)parents and the family of one or more children, whereas the other siblings usually lived closeby (95% married within same village).
We are currently in a process of updating these pedigree lineages up until the modern time with a grant from the European Research Council.
Additional data on prevailing environmental conditions: The demographic data on the Finns have been combined with information on wealth and social class of each family, with reasons of death, and with data on annual local population size and structure, and sex-specific intra- and inter-parish migration, fertility and mortality rates of the resident parish of all the study individuals. In addition, we have some data on weather conditions, disease outbreaks and annual crop yields and prices to provide an accurate measure of environmental variation and availability of food resources.
The data have been collected by professional genealogists, has been carefully checked for errors, and is now fully computerized. We welcome collaborators to benefit from these records in joint projects, and new PhD-students or post-docs to join our group.
Our database on Sami (Lapp) people consists of family-based information on parents dates of birth, marriage, and death as well as the dates of birth and death for their offspring extracted by a professional genealogist from the original parish records. The dataset contains information on three separate Sami populations (Utsjoki, Inari, and Enontekiö), which inhabited Northern Scandinavia during the 17th to 19th centuries. The total number of families included is 1974. These populations occupied large, partially overlapping, geographical areas, and the people experienced natural mortality due to the lack of any advanced medical care during the study period. These Sami were mainly nomadic reindeer herders, but practised also fishing and hunting for their livelihood. These three populations differed from each other in their main livelihood: The Sami of Utsjoki were semi-nomadic fisher-hunters and reindeer herders. In Inari, Sami lived mainly on fishing and hunting all year around, whereas people in Enontekiö practised mainly nomadic reindeer herding. Accordingly, Sami in Inari and Utsjoki populations lived primarily in permanent dwellings, while the people of Enontekiö lived in temporal dwellings and tents, and followed seasonal migrations of their reindeer herds. These among-population differences in life style were also reflected into the demography of the populations: both adult and juvenile mortality rates were highest on the nomadic Enontekiö population, and many other life-history traits also differed between the three populations. Moreover, infant mortality rates in Utsjoki and Inari populations were exceptionally low compared to corresponding numbers of southern Finnish populations. We study the Sami people in collaboration with Dr. Jukka Jokela (University of Oulu, Finland).
From the family album of Marc Tremblay
The third pedigree data-set on historical humans studied by our research group includes survival and reproductive data for 3,290 Saguenay mothers from Quebec in Canada born in the 19th century, and the reproductive output of their 16,618 surviving offspring who married in the same population. These data for the Saguenay population were obtained using the BALSAC population register at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, Canada, collected from old population records. This register contains demographical and genealogical information collected from baptism, marriage and death certificates from the 19th and 20th centuries for several regions of the province of Quebec, Canada. The Saguenay region is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, about 200 km to the northeast of Quebec City (near latitude 48° North), and their main livelihood during the study period was agriculture. This Canadian population differs from our Scandinavian study populations in many ways: there have been no wars, or natural disasters in the Saguenay region affecting mortality rates, or the much higher population growth during the study era. However, some local epidemics (such as typhus, measles and small pox) occurred between 1848 and 1918, causing significant raises in the death tolls. We study the historical Canadians in collaboration with Dr. Marc Tremblay (University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, Canada).