Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Lutherans, Mormons and the Estonian State Archives" - from the Bad News Might Also Be Good News Department

About three weeks ago, Baltic Reports, the website that reports the daily news from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had an interesting story titled “Estonian Lutherans Lash Out At Mormons.”  The issue was the controversy over the Estonian government’s permitting the LDS Church to film and digitize records in the Estonian State Archives.  According the State Archives, the cooperative agreement resulted in the digitization of records faster and more efficiently that the State Archives could have done on its own. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, to which 15% of Estonians belong, doesn’t think this arrangement (in place since the early 1990s) is a great idea, fearing it might result in the re-baptism of their Lutheran ancestors.

Here’s the “of interest to U.S. genealogists” part.  Embedded in the story was a link to the Rahvusarchiiv (the Estonian State Archives) and their digital record collection.  The homepage of the Estonian State Archives has a small British flag at the top right; if you click on it, you’ll get an English language version of the homepage, explaining what’s available.

There are also links to regional archives in Estonia and to back issues of the journal published by the Archives called “Tuna” (that’s “Past” in Estonian). Plus, there are links to the Estonian Film Archives and the Archives Shop.

The specific link to their English language “Geneology” (sic) page is here.

In order to search and use the actual digital records, you’ll need to register. Plus, you’ll find that most of the site beyond the homepage is written in Estonian (but of course you probably already suspected that might be the case, since it is, after all, the Estonian State Archives…).

Thus, it might be a good idea to get yourself an Estonian dictionary or a close Estonian friend.

It’s almost enough to make you want to discover an Estonian ancestor – or perhaps a client with Estonian ancestors –  just to poke around the site.

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