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31.07.2020

Memorial to Elias Lonnrot, Helsinki

Elias Lönnrot (Finland, 1802-1884) - Finnish linguist, folklorist, collector and compiler of the Karelian-Finnish epos "Kalevala".

Born into a tailor's family in Sammatti's parish. The parish was part of the Swedish kingdom of Nuland and Tavastgus (now Sammatti in the province of Uusimaa in Southern Finland). The family lived in desperate need.

After graduating from school in Tammisaari, then from school in Abo, he entered the General Faculty of Humanities of the Royal Academy in 1822 and graduated in 1827. In the same year, he defended his thesis, "Väinämöinen, God of the Ancient Finns"...

He entered the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsingfors, which he graduated in 1832, receiving a doctorate in medicine.

In early 1833, Lønnroth was appointed district doctor in Eastern Finland, in the small town of Kajaani. He lived here for 21 years, until the end of 1853.

During these years he was fascinated by collecting Karelian-Finnish folklore, ancient epic runes, proverbs and sayings. Later the ethnographic materials collected by E. Lennroth became the basis of the epos "Kalevala" which brought him world fame.

In total, Lennroth made 11 trips across Finnish and Russian Karelia (1828-1842), including to territories inhabited by Karelians, in the eastern and part of the northern regions of Olonets and Arkhangelsk provinces (1832-1837, 1841-1842). These travels he made on foot, with a rifle and suma behind his shoulders, or in a boat; the purposes of his travels were first of all connected with folklore and linguistics, but his travel records, diaries and notes also contain valuable geographical and local history information: about ways and ways of movement, landscape, lakes, rivers, villages, population, his life and crafts, economic situation, customs, state of medical care, etc. Some of his local history observations, especially in the Upper Kemi basin, have not lost their cognitive value.

On the first trip (1828) to Russian Karelia he captured partially Ladoga (Sortavala), on the second trip (summer 1832), through Kolvasjärvi, Lennroth visited Reboly, Kaskesnavolok, Minozero and Babu Guba (Stone Lake) and through Lenders he returned to Finland - Kajaani, Kuopio, Porvoo, Helsinki.

In 1833 Lennroth conducted the main folklore expedition to record the songs of the future "Kalevala": from Kajaani to Russian Karelia through Vuoksa, Stone Lake, to Voinitsa and Voknavolok (Lake Upper Kuito) and through Stone Lake he returned home. The fifth - by all accounts and the fourth - in Karelia (April 1834) short journey (18 days) proceeded mainly in Russian Karelia. Lennroth visited Wojnice, Juvalaksha, Ukhta, Woknavolok, Stone Lake and Ladvozer, i.e. the upper part of the Kem River basin. Here Lennroth met the famous Karelian runop singers - Archip Perttunen and Vaassila Kieleveinen.

On his next voyage (1835) Lennroth, having finished "Kalevala", took a large route through north-eastern Karelia, visiting Reboly, Rugozero, from there along the river Chirka-Kem to Yushkozero, Uhtu (now Kalevala village), Juvalaksha, Voknavolok.

Lennroth combined the collected runes into an epic work of "Kalevala". The first edition of the epic took place in 1835, the second one in 1849.

In 1836, Lennroth founded the magazine Mehiläinen (The Bee), which became Finland's first periodical literary magazine.
The longest and most difficult route was Lennroth's journey in 1836-1837. In the first half of the journey the northern part of the route was passed: through Uhtu, Keret, Kovda visited Kandalaksha and Kola on the Kola Peninsula, Petsamo (Pechenga) and the whole northern part of Finland.

In 1839, Lennroth's work "The House Doctor of the Finnish Peasant" was published.

Immediately after returning home, Lennroth went south, through Voknavolok and Reboly, to the Karelians of Eastern Finland to the northern shore of Lake Ladoga.

During his last trip to Karelia Lennroth set the task of philological research of Karelian dialects and gathering materials for Swedish-Finnish dictionary. In 1841 Lennroth visited Petrozavodsk.

In 1841-1842 Lennroth together with Matthias Kastren made a large ethnographic-linguistic trip to Lapland. In the scholarly world, Lennroth developed a deep knowledge of Finnish language and folklore.

In addition to the main work "Kalevala", he published a collection of anthologies of Finnish folk lyrics "Canteletar" (1840-1841), collections "Finnish folk proverbs" (1842) and "Finnish riddles" (1844).

In 1844, returning on foot from Tartu to Helsinki via St. Petersburg, he recorded Izhora folklore in the village of Kotly.

Since April 1850 he has been an honorary member of the Royal Berlin Academy of Sciences. In 1853 he was invited to the University of Helsinki as a professor of Finnish language and literature. In 1859 he was elected Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

In 1860 the work "Flora of Finland" by Lennroth was published.

In 1862, leaving the post of professor, Lennroth went to his native village of Sammatti.

Lennroth is also known as the compiler of the two-volume Finnish-Swedish Dictionary.

Lennroth is also known as the compiler of the two-volume "Finnish-Swedish Dictionary" (1867-1881) Many terms that are now an integral part of Finnish scientific terminology (especially in philology and botany) were first formulated by E. Lennroth.

In 1876 Lennroth was elected Honorary Academician of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Lonnroth's longstanding friendship with the Russian scientist Yakov Grot, as well as his connections with Russian writers (Peter Pletnev, Panteleimon Kulish, etc.) were of great historical and literary importance.

He died March 19, 1884 in his native village of Sammatti at the age of 82 years.

During the Finnish occupation (1941-1944), Pushkinskaya Street in Petrozavodsk was renamed into Elias Lennrota Street.
In his honour the street in the centre of Helsinki on which the monument to the scientist is established is named.

Monument to Elias Lennroth and the heroes of the epos "Kalevala" in Helsinki.
Elias Lennroth is named after the Finno-Ugric School in Petrozavodsk.
Elias Lennroth's name is given to the square in the center of Petrozavodsk at the intersection of Kirov and Sverdlov streets, where the fountain in honor of the heroes of the epos "Kalevala" is installed.
A memorial sign in honor of Elias Lennroth was opened in the town of Sortavala in 1978.

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