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Päivi Setälä

Päivi Eeva Marjatta Setälä (née Priha)
Born January 20, 1943, Kuopio. Died March 3, 2014, Helsinki.

Master of Arts, 1968 and Doctor of Philosophy (General History), 1977, University of Helsinki
Honorary Doctor, University of Kuopio, 2005

Docent, General History, University of Helsinki and University of Tampere, 1978-2004
Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Helsinki, 1991-94
Board Member, Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, 1981-86
Research Council for Culture and Society, Academy of Finland, 1982-87
Director, Kristiina Institute, 1991-94
Project Leader, Academy of Finland, 1992-2001
Director, Finnish Institute in Rome, 1994-97
Chair, Finnish Institute in Rome Foundation, 1999-2005

State Award for Public Information, 1991
Warelius Prize, 1998
Finnish Church’s Cultural Award, 2003
J.V. Snellman Award, 2006
Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, 2008
Knight of the Order of the Lion of Finland, first class, 2008

Photo: Eero Roine, HY.
Written by Lauri Lönnström
Translated by John Calton

Patron and Champion of Culture

Päivi Setälä’s father, Erkki Priha, was the founder of a hugely successful resin glue factory in Hamina which brought wealth to the family. The factory was later sold and, upon the death of her father, Setälä received a share of the proceeds. This allowed her to establish the Päivi Priha Fund at the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 1981. Later on, in 2006, she donated her J. V. Snellman Prize granted by the University of Helsinki as a fund to support The University Library book conservation project.

Starting from the late 1970s she was entrusted with several honorary posts which presented her with the opportunity to shape Finnish cultural life, for instance the activity of the Finnish Institute in Rome. During her tenure at the Institute and its Foundation she was instrumental  in attracting and maintaining sponsors. As the director between 1994 and 1997 she actively promoted the Institute to political and business leaders. From 2000 to 2002 she was a columnist for Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in Finland, and used her platform to further increase the Institute’s renown.

Photo: Helsinki University Museum.​
Photo: Helsinki University Museum.​


  • M. Klinge, ‘Setälä, Päivi, National Biography of Finland online. Accessed May 6, 2015.
  • M. Klinge, ‘Päivi Setälä, obituary, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, March 30, 2014. Accessed May 6, 2015.
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