Media & archives

Singing students! Collecting oral history on student song culture, 15 March–30 June 2016


Students sing and have sung throughout the years in almost any place: at social gatherings, dinner parties and demonstrations, in the sauna, at ‘appro’ pub crawls, on the road and in processions. Songs are an integral part of student culture. They are a part of both everyday routines and special occasions, sometimes taking a critical stand and sometimes showing respect. Song traditions live on in organisations but they also bring together looser communities. Singing is a way of showing togetherness and passing on traditions.

On the other hand, students constantly rewrite song lyrics. Lyrics describe the phenomena and people of their time, whether the message is political or simply uplifting. New songs have been created both spontaneously and as the result of contests – and by both individuals and collectives. Some lyrics have remained in their writers’ desk drawers, while others are still sung in new connections decades later.

What kind of memories related to student songs do you have? Tell us your memories and experiences with student song culture. We are interested in the recollections of both current and former students from the perspectives of both organisations and individual students. In addition to this, we wish to record students’ own lyrics and the stories related to them.


To get some ideas and inspiration for your text, try answering the following questions:

How are/were the songs related to your time as a student?
What songs were sung and in what kinds of contexts?
Which songs were well-liked and which encountered disapproval?
What was your favourite song and why?
Were there rules, games or traditions connected to certain songs?

Have you been involved in writing new lyrics to songs?
Have you written new lyrics or an additional verse to a song either by yourself or with others?
What was the context in which the lyrics were written? Where was the song sung?
Do you know whether the song remained in active use? Did it end up in a songbook or reach a wider audience?


We hope you can attach the lyrics you have written along with any related information (such as its melody, possible coreography or other information related to performing the song).

This collection is organised by the Finnish Literature Society (SKS), the Student Union of the University of Helsinki and Helsingin yliopiston ylioppilaskunnan historian ystävät (HYYHY ry; ‘Friends of the history of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki’).

We will report on the findings of the collection in November 2016. Book prizes will be raffled among everyone who answers to the collection.

 More information:

SKS Archives, keruu(a), tel. 0201 131 240
HYYHY ry, Sanna Supponen, sanna.supponen(a)

Instructions for answering

Use your own language when answering. You can participate either with your real name or with a pen name. Please include the subject you studied and when this was in your answer. The length of the texts is not restricted, and both the style of the texts and the way you approach the subject can be freely chosen. Please add your own and any potential interviewee’s consent for archiving the material to SKS Archives with either your real name or pen name. If we end up publishing any material, this will be done anonymously, without any personal information that might enable identification.

Send in your texts by 30 June 2016 with one of the following methods:
 The form found at this link (available only in Finnish):
 By mail to: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, arkisto, PL 259, 00171 Helsinki. Please write ’Opiskelijalaulut’ on the envelope.
 As an email attachment to keruu(a) Please use ‘Opiskelijalaulut’ as the title of the email.

If you also want to send in songbooks or leaflets, please contact SKS Archives in advance at keruu(a) or tel. 0201 131 240.