The area of Jämsä in old maps

Inland mapping is a relatively new phenomenon in Finnish history and was only begun systematically in the 17th century. Some of the general maps of Europe showed Finland as early as the 16th century, but the map descriptions were based more on imagination that on fact. The most known and best of these maps was Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus from 1555. It created the basis for geographical knowledge of Scandinavia and Finland for decades. The first surviving maps of the Jämsä area were drawn in the middle of the 16th century, but they mainly depicted the areas on the Kymijoki river and Vyborg side. The situation changed dramatically during the next century. Sweden had joined the religious war in central Europe known as the Thirty Years' War. While in Germany, Swedish officers had realised just how important reliable maps were to successful warfare. The organisation of land surveying began during the reign of Gustav II Adolph in the year 1628, and the first trained surveyor began his work in Finland in 1633. This can be seen as the year land surveying began in Finland.

After this, every province was assigned a surveyor who began the mapping of the area according to the instructions he had received. The first maps were so-called land registry maps drawn mainly for tax reasons. The first geographical maps of jurisdictional districts, provinces, large parishes and sailing routes were also drawn around the middle of the century. These were drawn not only to further geographical knowledge but also for military purposes. Taxation and military systems dictated mapping needs also in the future.

The first map of the great parish of Jämsä as a part of the Uusimaa and Häme provinces was drawn in the middle of the 17th century. Tax maps that were usual in the parishes of southern Finland were not drawn of the Jämsä area. The tax registration maps of the beginning of the 18th century are also missing from this area. It was not until the new land divisions in the 18th century that the systematic and fairly accurate mapping of the area began. Jämsä was quite well represented in the general maps of the time. The geographically most accurate representation can be found in the parish map from the 1750s. The wide-ranging military mapping of the 18th century was not finished in the Jämsä area, but it was replaced partly by the magnificent Hermelin general map at the end of the century.

From the 19th century, the map exhibition includes the parish maps from the middle of the century and the new general map drawn from these parish maps. The exhibition will be added to later.

The maps have been chosen from the digital map collections of the Departments of History and Ethnology of the University of Jyväskylä, which have been compiled from the archives of Finland and Sweden. Some of the general maps are included in the Eero and Erkki Fredrikson map collection housed in the same department.

Copy: Heikki Rantatupa