Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen
Humanist of the day

Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen

Baron Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen came from a Swedish-speaking family. He taught Finnish and rose to a position of prominence in the Fennoman movement, which sought to promote the use of Finnish in all areas of public life, including the provision of Finnish-medium education. Yrjö-Koskinen fought loudly and energetically to this end. He was ennobled in 1884.

Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen

Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen (formerly Georg Zacharias Forsman)
Born Vaasa December 10, 1830.  Died Helsinki November 13, 1903.

Professor of General History 1863-76, Inspector for Ostrobothnian student ‘nation’ 1868-82 (Imperial Alexander University).

Master of Arts 1853 (history)
Licentiate of Philosophy 1858 (history)
Doctor of Philosophy 1860 (history) Imperial Alexander University

Elementary school teacher 1853-54 (Turku)
Senior Secondary School teacher 1854-63 (Vaasa).
He was also chair of the Senate House Affairs Committee (1882-85) and chair of the Ecclesiastical Affairs Committee (1885-99)

Ennobled in 1884 with the name Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen
Made a Baron in 1877

Photo: Museovirasto, Daniel Nyblin
Written by Tero Juutilainen
Translated by Kaisla Kajava. Revised by John Calton.

Georg Zacharias Forsman, as he was originally called, was brought up in a Swedish-speaking family, but studied and adopted the Finnish language at an early age, following the Snellman doctrine promoting the Finnish language. Finnish became the language of the home as well as the language of the majority of his publications. The only exceptions were a few books on the Finnish language, written for the Swedish-speaking intelligentsia. This was where he differed from Runeberg and Snellman, who had both written in Swedish. In addition, he adopted the Finnish version of his name, Yrjö Koskinen, as his pseudonym.

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As an active journalist, Georg Forsman both established and edited numerous newspapers during his life, and frequently took the opportunity to voice his views on contemporary social debate in their pages. His choice of vocabulary often resulted in matters being blown out of proportion or at least their meaning rendered quite different from what he had intended.

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In his biography, Rafael Koskimies mentions that Eino Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen has said that his father’s influence as a university professor on his own academic growth and development was not particularly great or fruitful. This is easy to understand when considered in terms of history teaching in today’s schools. Of course…

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  • Kertomus Hämeenkyrön pitäjästä, (’The story of the rural municipality of Hämeenkyrö’) 1852.
  • Nuijasota, sen syyt ja tapaukset (’The Cudgel War, its causes and events’) 1857 and 1859.
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