The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters has a special legacy in promoting the study of folklore. As told in FFN No. 11, it was on the initiative of the founding member of the Academy, Kaarle Krohn, Professor of Folklore, that the decision was made back in 1908 to publish an international monograph series, Folklore Fellows Communications, first to serve the needs of the FF, an international union of re-searchers of folklore, which soon subsided in the turmoils of the First World War, and then as a channel for folkloristic research at large. In 1935, on the occasion of the Kalevala Centennial, the Academy established on a State donation the Kalevala Prize to be awarded triennially for the best study on the Kalevala and related subjects published in Finland during the previous three-year period.
New developments along similar lines date from 1990, when the Academy founded the present international network of Folklore Fellows (see FFN No. 1). Alongside the continued publication of FFC and the starting of an FF Network bulletin, the focus was now laid on scholarly training courses called Folklore Fellows’ Summer Schools and on relatively small specialist conferences.
Research on oral epics and the emergence of tradition-based epics, of which the Kalevala is an interesting example, partly because its source history is so accurately known, gained new impetus in 1985, when the 150th anniversary of the Kalevala brought epic scholars together from all parts of the world. This trend has continued, for example, through workshops organized mainly at Turku University during 1991-96 for top epic scholars by Folklore Fellows in Oral Epics, a network of about 70 researchers.
On September 2, 1996 the Board of the Academia Scientiarum Fennica took a step to explore the possibility of a Kalevala Institute which would pool the international efforts of three actors in the field of Kalevala-related research, namely, the Kalevala Society, the Finnish Literature Society and the Academia Scientiarum Fennica, in collaboration with Finnish universities having research on oral and semiliterary epics in their programme. A committee consisting of re-presentatives of these societies and universities is in the making and the year 1997 is reserved for planning. Among the urgent tasks is the preparation of a conference on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the New Kalevala in 1999. The focus will be on international partners and relations in the comparative study of the Kalevala and other tradition-based epics as well as oral epics in general. FF Network will report on the development of this and other initiatives taken by the Kalevala Institute.
(FFN 13, November 1996: 1)