Genealogy & Swedish Finns

by Joelle Steele

Joelle became interested in family history in 1975 when her parents started visiting their families in Finland and Italy. She also became interested in identifying people in old photographs at the same time, and studied cranial, facial, and ear anatomy for that purpose. In 1980, she began offering services in identifying people in old photos. A few years later, her Swedish-Finn mother brought home some genealogical books from Terjärv, Finland, along with an old family history written ca. 1910 by Joelle's great-great-uncle. Joelle's mother translated the history into English and Joelle took classes at the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in West Los Angeles, California. For five years she was also one of the editors and the production person for The Quarterly, the newsletter of the Swedish-Finn Historical Society.

Joelle has written several articles and a few books on family history-related topics, including a 200+ page illustrated history of her Swedish-Finn ancestors and a 60-page history of her Italian ancestors. She also wrote two books on identifying people in photos, the latest being Face to Face: Analysis and Comparison of Facial Features to Authenticate Identities of People in Photographs. Some of her previously published articles can be read here:

2016-06-18: Using Facial Features to Identify People In Old Photographs: To identify an individual, you must compare their facial features with known photos of that person.

2016-05-13: How to Handle, Store, and Display Old Photos: Antique photos are very fragile and must be cared for to preserve them for generations to come.

2014-05-20: Understanding Kinship And The Truth About What Happens When Cousins Marry: Are you second cousins, half-cousins, third cousins twice removed? Which is which? Also, intermarriage in families was once common and resulted in infertility, frequent miscarriage, still births, high infant mortality, deformity, and inherited diseases caused by recessive genes. Read about it in this short article.

2010-01-19: Swedish Finns - Living Well and Living Longer: Researchers have determined that Swedish Finns use social capital to stay healthier and live longer and productive lives.

2008-09-23: Inspired Design - Swedish Finn Glass Artist Oiva Toikka: Award-winning Oiva Toikka is best known for his beautiful stylized birds.

2008-08-16: Matts Johansson Torp Svartsjö (08/16/1674-08/01/1759): One of many famous Swedish Finns and the 3x great-grandfather of Finnish National Poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg.

2008-08-06: The Ultima Thule: Swedish-Finn designer Tapio Wirkkala achieved fulfillment from his many design challenges and put Finnish design on the map.

2008-06-10: A Forstrom Family Tragedy-Arvid Forstrom Dies in Train Accident: Swedish Finn Arvid Forstrom was killed when his milk truck was struck by the northbound Seattle train in Centralia, Washington in August 1917.

2008-01-17: Schnyder's Corneal Dystrophy: Learn about this little-known disease that affects people of Swedish Finn ancestry as well as those of other ethnicities.