Jouko Halmekoski: Orjamarkkinat. Huutolaislasten kohtaloita Suomessa [The slave market. The fate of auctioned pauper children in Finland]

17 November 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Orjamarkkinat. Huutolaislasten kohtaloita Suomessa
[The slave market. The fate of auctioned pauper children in Finland]
Helsinki: Ajatus Kirjat, Helsinki, 2011. 225 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-20-8391-6
€ 26, hardback

Auctions of people were at their most widespread in Finland in the 1870s and 1880s; ‘auctioned paupers’ were entrusted for a year at a time to the one who put in the lowest bid for the pauper’s upkeep, then recompensed by the local authority. The people who were auctioned off included children, the elderly, disabled and mentally ill people. These auctions were banned in 1923, but they continued for some time thereafter. Although the practice was widely known about, the paupers’ shame prevented much discussion of the subject. Those who wished to provide help to people  in need were probably greatly outnumbered by those who sought to benefit from their plight. In most cases, orphaned children ended up being auctioned off. Children born out of wedlock were another significant group. Jouko Halmekoski advertised in the newspapers in order to trace the lives and descendants of those who were auctioned off. Not all the auctioned paupers’ histories are tales of horror: this book, consisting of 25 of them, also includes stories of children who were treated well.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

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