THESLEFF, Arthur. Viipuri (now Vyborg in Russia) 5.3.1871 — Stockholm 17.12.1920. Finnish Botanist (Mycologist) and Gipsy Scholar. Son of Colonel Fredrik Vilhelm Th. and Olga Maria Thesleff. From 1890 studied botany at Helsinki. In the late 1890s fieldwork among gipsies in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Hungary and Poland. In 1906 he moved to Sweden and in 1906 was among the founders of the utopian Colonia Finlandesa in Argentine. Returned to Sweden in 1910. He had financial difficulties and a drinking problem, which hastened his end by suicide. In 1911-13 President of Gypsy Lore Society. Married Bertha Olivia Järnefelt, no children.
He wanted to assimilate the gipsies with rather drastic means. They should be registered and forced to remain in one place. At the age of seven their children should be taken and brought up in orphanages without any contacts with adult gipsies. Nevertheless he was important pioneer in the study of gipsy dialects.
Publications: “Finlands zigenare”, Finsk Tidskrift 47, 1899:1, 386-398 & 466-477.
– Wörterbuch des Dialekts der finnländischen Zigeuner. 8+124 p. Helsingfors 1901.
– Stockholms förbrytarspråk och lägre slang 1910-1912. 120 p. Stockholm 1912.
– “Report on the Gypsy Problem”, JGLS N.S. 5, 1911-12, 81-107, 218-269.
– Mycological and botanical publications.
Sources: Aalto 1971, 81f.; *P. Laaksonen, Suomen kansallisbiografia, online version 2010 (not in printed version); *H. Väre, “Polyhistorian A.Th., the visionary mycologist”, Memoranda Soc. Pro Fauna et Flora Fennica 96, 2020, 65-78; Finnish Wikipedia with drawing.
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