Marjatta Hietala (née Puusa, born 19 June 1943) is a Finnish historian specialising in urban history and the history of innovations. She is professor emerita of General History at the University of Tampere.[1]

Hietala introduced in Finland the study of innovations and international contacts. She has held a range of positions of trust both in Finland and internationally.[2]


Hietala read general history, Finnish and Scandinavian history, statistics, sociology and politics at the University of Helsinki, gaining her MA in 1968, Licentiate degree in 1970 and master's degree in Social Sciences in 1971. Her PhD (1975) analysed German right-wing and militaristic nationalism on the basis of the works by Ernst Jünger and his associates. Hietala's doctoral dissertation paved the way for using content analysis and statistical methods in Finnish historiography.

Hietala's doctoral work brought her into close contact with the school of thought on the history of ideas headed by Professor Aira Kemiläinen at the University of Jyväskylä. As a result, she co-worked with Kemiläinen on the history of racial hygiene. This also informed her interest in intellectual and urban history, and the spread of innovations and international contacts.[3]


Hietala opened her research career in the Ministry of the Interior and the Prime Minister's Office. She then moved on to serve as an Assistant in the Department of History at the University of Helsinki and as a Senior Researcher of the Academy of Finland. In 1994–1996, she was only the third woman to hold a Chair of General History in a Finnish university (at the University of Joensuu). Her two female predecessors were Professors Alma Söderhjelm (appointed in 1927) and Hietala's teacher and mentor Aira Kemiläinen (appointed in 1971).[4] Hietala became professor of General History at the University of Tampere in 1996, and occupied this post until 2011 apart from a five-year period as an Academy Professor with the Academy of Finland in 2002–2007.

In Tampere, a group of researchers congregated around Marjatta Hietala, with a focus on the history of science and innovations, and intellectual and urban history. It was in this group that her successor in Tampere, Marjaana Niemi, completed her academic training.

Focus of teaching and research

In the study of history Marjatta Hietala has applied a range of methods typically used in the natural sciences, especially quantitative methods involving the analysis of long time series. She has also encouraged participation in international research groups, and has herself done comparative research in, for example, Germany and the United States. Her studies on urban history and the spread of innovations show that Finland was among the first nations to adopt technological advances (such as telephones and street lighting) at the end of the 19th century and in the opening decades of the 20th century. Hietala's comparative methods on the spread of innovations are widely used internationally.[5]

Selected publications


Marjatta Hietala is married to Kari Hietala, a researcher. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Hietala's parents Nikolai and Maire Puusa were evacuees from the part of Finnish Karelia ceded to the Soviet Union in the Second World War.


  1. ^ Nenonen, Kaisu-Maija; Teerijoki, Ilkka (1998). Historian suursanakirja [The historical compendium]. WSOY. ISBN 978-951-0-22044-3.
  2. ^ "Marjatta Hietala". University of Tampere, Faculty of Social Sciences, Staff / History. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  3. ^ Tommila, Päiviö, ed. (1998). Miten meistä tuli historian tohtoreita [How did we gain our doctorates in history]. Helsinki: Finnish Historical Society. pp. 272–281. ISBN 978-951-710-084-7.
  4. ^ Tommila, Päiviö, ed. (2000). Suomen tieteen historia 2. Humanistiset ja yhteiskuntatieteet [History of research and scholarship in Finland, vol. 2. Social sciences and the humanities]. Porvoo: WSOY. pp. 119, 172–173. ISBN 978-951-0-23105-0.
  5. ^ Korppi-Tommola, Aura (2016). "Marjatta Hietala -- yleisen historian professori, kaupunki- ja innovaatiohistorian tutkija [Marjatta Hietala: Professor of General History; Scholar of urban history and the history of innovations]". Naisten ääni -tietokanta [Women's Voice Database]. Retrieved 2019-03-04.