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Getting started with Estonia research

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The Estonia National Archives holds approximately two million records, including those of churches, educational institutions, manors, and personal files, and also various kinds of documentation that belonged to societies and enterprises. One of the documents in their collection describes how the coastal peasants on Estonia's island of Saaremaa helped rescue the shipwrecked English vessel Edith on 12 May 1860. The Edith, carrying a cargo of coal and coke out of West Hartlepool, had been caught in a storm and ran aground near Torgu.

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  • A number of records useful to a genealogist have been digitized. They include land registries, register of estates, and personal name indexes to parish registers. These can be searched on the National Archives of Estonia site. Here is the link to the digitized archival sources http://www.ra.ee/dgs/explorer.php.
  • Estonians began their freedom from Soviet rule in 1988 through the “Singing Revolution”. Estonians had been under tight control by the USSR, which by 1947 had set strict restrictions on the music to be performed during the Estonian Song Festival. In the festival of June 1988, the citizens courageously but tentatively began singing one of their own national folksongs. From then on, they were permitted to renew their nationalistic pride through song.
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