The study of folk traditions may serve the development of ethnic and national identity. The history of such researches among the Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia proves that statement. The paper portrays the Finnish, Hungarian and Russian research history from the 18th century until today. The language, folklore and ethnography of Finno-Ugric peoples contributed much to the national identity of those peoples. Institutions in Finland, Hungary and Estonia served the same purpose. The attitude of the Russian state was impressive and it has changed several times. The role of the Pravoslav Church and its Kazan Priest’ Seminary deserves special attention. The paper is of summarizing character and in the bibliography only the most important publications are listed.