Heiskasten sukuseura ry.
Rajametsäntie 9 B
00620 Helsinki

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English summary


Throughout the years thousands of hours of voluntary work has been put to our Society, Heiskasten Sukuseura. All this work has been voluntary and for the common good. Working within our association has certainly given many people more content and enriched their lives. It has given many the opportunity to use their energy for the general good, while bringing new social contacts, and perhaps encouraging them to learn new knowledge and skills.

As we are now celebrating the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Society, we can note with satisfaction that the words of our first chairman Kullervo Heiskanen from the inaugural meeting still remain valid today: "We are gathered here to honour our ancestors’ work and to set up a family association, which seeks to uphold the family togetherness and perform centralized genealogy".

The idea of publishing a book on the history of our Society was presented in the board in 2008. The board members were asked to contemplate how the book should be written and structured. The framework proposed by then-Vice President Hannu Heiskanen was adopted and a committee was formed to put the history book together. It was chaired by Hannu and included Leena Heiskanen, Kaija Heiskanen, Timo E. Heiskanen, and Jorma Heikkilä. When the work was kicked off in early spring 2009, the committee agreed on a teamwork approach so that each of the Society’s decades was covered by the people who were actively involved at that period. The text was thus written not only by the committee members, but also by active Society members from the different periods.

Foundation of Heiskasten Sukuseura
When fisherman Eino Heiskanen uttered the words that led to the foundation of our Society at the ancient family grounds in Porosalmi at Rantasalmi parish in 1958, he also created in a visionary way a sustainable connection between all of us belonging to the Heiskanen family.

The Society's founding meeting was held at the Restaurant Kestikartano in Helsinki on the 21st of February, 1960. The reason why the Society was registered in Helsinki was simply due to the fact that Helsinki had become a natural geographical meeting point for all the family branches, following the migration from the countryside. Many family members who had been torn from their birthplace for their studies and work, and had moved to the capital either by themselves or with their parents, felt rootless there and began to search in their new neighborhoods for others sharing their situation - their family members.

The Society's founding meeting elected as the first chairman general secretary Kullervo Heiskanen from Helsinki and as the Head of the Society Professor V. A. Heiskanen from Columbus, Ohio in the United States.

Society's first decade
Activities started swiftly in the early 1960s and at the outset the women's committee "Heiskattaret" was established to deal with practical arrangements for the meetings and other events. The activities were financed in the beginning from membership fees and magazine sales commissions. Communciation with the members took place through letters, and the collection of genealogical information from both members and parishes was started.

The society’s first family celebration was held in Varkaus at the end of summer 1963, bringing together as many as 182 people. The second one of the 1960’s family celebrations was held in Joensuu in 1966. Also there was a very high turnout and the atmosphere was very enthusiastic. People felt being at their "roots".

The Society’s rules were revised in 1966, and among other changes the board membership was extended to two years. At the end of the decade the Heiskanen family got their own pocket-sized memo containing society’s rules, important events, etc.

During the 1960s the Society conveved at least twice a year in the statutory spring and autumn meetings. The autumn meetings were usually followed by a Christmas party. The meetings regularly brought together 20-40 family members. They enjoyed a variety of lectures, performances, singing, playing music, and dancing. The main goal was to spend time  together, and it was always fun.

Also other types of events took place. In 1961 a trip was made to Suomenlinna fortress and the following year all the way to Turku!

Society's second decade
The first full decade was celebrated in 1970 in Kuopio and in nearby Jännevirta. At this event the first honorary members of the society were elected, they were seven highly qualified society members.

In 1972 a special ”travel circle” was established with the task to organise excursions within the society both in Finland and abroad. The first trip was arranged already the following year to Tallinn, the neighboring city of Helsinki, and after a few years all the way to Leningrad.

The Society’s 15th anniversary was celebrated in the middle of the decade, in the city of Savonlinna which was also commemorating 500th year of the Olavinlinna castle. At this time, the local chapter of the society was established in Savonlinna.

The statutory meetings were still held twice a year, the participants averaging over thirty people.

Right at the end of the decade the Society joined Sukuyhteisöjen Tuki ry (nowadays Sukuseurojen keskusliitto). The association was and remains today a strong advocate of genealogical associations’ activities.

Society's third decade
The third decade of Society’s activities was boldly initiated with the 20-year celebration. This time the venue was the legendary birth place of Porosalmi at Rantasalmi. Trips to Porosalmi had been organised previously, but this time the Society was celebrating its third decade.

The genealogical research of the Heiskanen family had reached a point where about half of the members could be located in one of the known Heiskanen branches.

In the early 1980s, the membership registration was handed over to Sukuyhteisöjen Tuki, and a little later shares in the association were also acquired for 1000 marks. Information to members was distributed mainly through a dedicated leaflet within the Sukuviesti magazine.

Towards the end of the decade a quiet period followed in the Society’s activities. Long term active members either passed away or reached a high age with less resources available for Society’s activities. The real crisis year was 1986, when none of the board members was willing to assume the burden of acting as the Chairman.

Fortunately however, towards the end of the decade new active members appeared, who both put the Society’s finances in order and turned around the decline in membership numbers. The autumn 1989 witnessed the first issue of Society’s own magazine ”Heiskaset”, headed by the Chairman Pauli Heiskanen. At the same time the Society broke its tight ties with the Sukuviesti magazine published by Sukuyhteisöjen Tuki, which had been burdening the Society’s finances.

During the 1980s the Society convened 2-3 times per year. The low point in the number of participants was reached in the 1989 autumn meeting; only 10 persons were then present. More people joined the meetings when they were taken to countryside, e.g. the Tuusniemi meeting in the spring 1988 brought together as many as 68 family members!

Society's fourth decade
The Society’s thirty year long journey was celebrated with an exceptionally well organised event in Kuopio. The family banner designed by Salme Halonen (née Heiskanen) was made public in this event and handed over to all the founding members who were still active in the Society.

In the beginning of the decade the Society moved to the computer era by acquiring its own pc and becoming a member of Sukutietotekniikka Ry. The Society also opened its own website during this decade.

The first "Heiskanen of the Year” was elected in 1992. The Society selected case to Major General Raimo Heiskanen, who had gained a lot of positive publicity for the Heiskanen name with his book: "Saadun tiedon mukaan..."

The Society’s rules were changed in 1993 so that the spring and autumn meetings were combined into one annual meeting and the Head of Society title was dropped.

The Society's 35-year celebration was held in the summer of 1995 in Savo at Kangaslampi. At the same occasion a relief was unveiled in memory of Professor V. A. Heiskanen. This was also the first Society’s event recorded on an edited video.

Thanks to the decades-long collection effort by the members and Kaija Heiskanen’s persistence and hard work, the Society published at the Leppävirta Genealogical Fair in summer 1997 the impressive, over 800 pages long genealogical book ”HEISKASET” in an edition of 300 copies. The book has information on more than 13 000 known Heiskanen and a lot of interesting articles on the family members’ activities in different spheres of life. In the same year Markku Heiskanen was elected Chairman, representing the second generation as he is the son of Society’s first Chairman Kullervo Heiskanen.

The ”Heiskaset” book turned out to be a success despite the doubts and the first edition was sold out in less than half a year. The second edition of 200 copies was printed in 1998.

In 1999 the Society got a splendid logo, which was designed by calligrapher Toivo Heiskanen.

In the 1990s, the Society continued to have meetings a couple of times a year with increasing participation, ranging from thirty to seventy people. The regional activities were kicked off in Kuopio in 1991.

Society's fifth decade
At the turn of the Millennium the Society's membership reached its peak, as many as 373 households. To commemorate its 45th anniversary, the Society published a book called "Heiskaset - poimintoja polun varrelta", edited by Kaija Heiskanen and containing stories from 30 different family members. The book continued the tradition started in the ”Heiskaset” book of presenting stories from the different walks of life, from begging trips to meeting Mannerheim.

In 2007, the rules changed so that the Society's annual meeting is held only every two years. Meetings can of course be arranged in between, but the board’s mandate is always two years, allowing a longer term perspective. The ”Heiskaset” family book had been out of print for several years when the third edition of 100 copies went to print, in order to satisfy family members need for information. The genealogical research progressed greatly in the new millennium as the amount of data available in the internet expanded and two family branch specific books were published.

The work on this 50 year history book was started already in autumn 2008 and continued actively in the following year. A 30 minute multimedia show on Society’s 50 year journey was made for the family celebration of summer 2010, both projects were led by Chairman Hannu Heiskanen.

The Society’s genealogical research
The Society’s 50 year jubilee is also aptly the 350 year jubilee of genealogical research in Finland. Genealogical research has been carried out actively since the early days of the Society, with varying success. At times some members have been passive in collecting the information. The persistent hard workers, for example the brothers Kyösti, Juhani ja Pentti Heiskanen were early pioneers in this field, as well as sisters Anja and Eila Heiskanen from Kuopio, who have studied the Ylä-Savo branches. Typical to the period, the information was collected on filing cards, which were managed by the above-mentioned Pentti Heiskanen for two decades (1961-1980).

After the foundation was laid, Society decided to publish in the late 1990s its own genealogical book, containing the results of all the data collection performed until then. A giant effort was made by Kaija Heiskanen from Kuopio in putting the book together and it was completed in time for the Leppävirta Genealogical Fair in 1997. It is printed and has sold so far, no fewer than 600 copies. A real best-seller by the Heiskanen family!

In today’s computer and Internet era genealogical research is experiencing a new revival. More researchers have started as the research has become easier and possible to perform from a home computer. In the future the Society wants to support the publication of branch specific books that are more accurate and up to date. To this end, we are using a standard software, Suku Juttu, in which data from the various family branches can be aggregated in the future.

Society's role and future challenges
We all need to know where we came from and what our ancestors were like. It is interesting for one to note the characteristics and behaviours that have been passed on from generation to generation. Moreover, we must always remember that even though we are Heiskanen, in each of us there is a half from another family, and the further we go back in history, the more families blend in. The number of families multiplies by two with every generation we go back.

In the genealogical society’s work one must always bear in mind that the Society exists for the sake of its members and not the other way around. It must therefore be taken into account the different needs of the members in all age groups. Young people are our future and involving them in Society’s activities is a challenge. The baby boomers are coming up to retirement, which guarantees that there will be more people who have the time and opportunity to find their roots. Nor should we forget the senior family members. They continue to carry with them a memory bank, of which younger generations cannot even dream.

The Society must respect the traditions, but simultaneously stay current and use the most modern methods in its activities. Our Society has a solid foundation, let us go ahead towards new challenges.

Long live the Heiskanen family!