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The archive of Edvard Westermarck

The sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher Edvard Westermarck (1862–1939), known for his research on marriage, morals and religion, left an extensive collection of letters, manuscripts, excerpts and notebooks. Westermarck also owned a substantial collection of photographs. The documents are stored in the archive collections of Åbo Akademi University Library.

Westermarck was among the first Finnish researchers to build an international career. He greatly influenced an entire generation of British and international students through his position as a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics. Among his students mention could be made of Morris Ginsberg, Gerald Camden Wheeler and, perhaps the most famous of them all, Bronislaw Malinowski. Among his Finnish students at the University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi University were Rafael Karsten, Hilma Granqvist and Gunnar Landtman. His collection of letters includes correspondence with the foremost anthropologists of his time. The collection of letters also includes a large number of letters from family and friends in Finland.

Edvard Westermarck sitter vid ett bord.
Edvard Westermarck in Boxhill, England.

Westermarck periodically lived in Morocco and conducted field work and expeditions in the country over many years. Photography was one of the methods of documentation that he used in his field studies, and his unique photographs are part of the picture collection in Åbo Akademi University Library’s archive collections.

Westermarck’s letters and manuscripts are still often used as sources for current research in the social and cultural sciences, especially concerning morals, marriage and sexuality. The archived documents are also a source for research about the history of the Finnish universities and the founding of Åbo Akademi University in 1918, as Westermarck was the first rector of the newly founded Åbo Akademi University in 1918–1921 and professor of philosophy in 1918–1932.

Updated 22.2.2022