Estonia, Petseri County New Surname Register Cards (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Title in the Language of the Records

Eesti, Petserimaa Uus Perekonnanimi Registreeri kaardid

Record Description

This collection will include records from 1921 to 1923.

This is a collection of new surname register cards for residents of Narva and Petseri counties who didn’t have Estonian names. Name cards are organized alphabetically by the new surnames. The text is handwritten in Estonian.

During the first period of the Independent Republic (1918-1940), over 210,000 people acquired their own surnames. New names replaced those that were insulting (Kõnts "Filth", Sopaauk "Muckhole"), weird (Kollikivi "Ghost-stone", Pudrunahk "Porridgeskin"), foreign (Apfelbaum, Vassiljev), of mixed origins (Jahimann, Karubach) or undesirable on other grounds. 

Those of non-Estonian origin had to renounce to their original German, Russian, or other language names and take Estonian names instead. In order to change their names, they had to apply for a name change and then register the new one. 

Between 1920 and 1934, only 820 names were spontaneously estonianised. Estonianisation of names effectively began in 1935, in which year there were approximately 34,000 name changes; by 1940, there had been about 200,000. Some of the new surnames were translations or equivalents of the old names, but others were simply chosen for their attractive sound, meaning, or association.

For an alphabetical list of records currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

In several instances in the history of Estonia, the government requested people to change their foreign language names to an Estonian name (referred to as the Estonianisation of names). Estonianising foreign-sounding family names was initiated in 1921, although the results were rather modest at first. The situation changed after Konstantin Päts established his authoritarian regime in 1934 and the process acquired a political dimension. Getting an Estonian name became the main cornerstone of demonstrating a person’s national unity.

This collection of name change cards is reliable for genealogical purposes as it was performed in front of a government official authority.  

Record Content

Population register cards usually contain the following information:

  • Name and surname
  • Ages
  • Place of residence
  • New name and surname

How to Use the Record

Searching the Collection

To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page:
⇒Select the appropriate "Record type"
⇒Select the appropriate "Surnames" which will take you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

This collection is organized alphabetically by new surname; therefore, by knowing that name it could be easy to locate your ancestor in this collection. It is usually possible to research Estonian family history confidently back to the period of the assigning of surnames and, with luck and patience, beyond this date using family reconstruction techniques based upon the parish registers and revision lists.

For Help Reading These Records

These records are in German, Russian or Estonian. For help with reading the records, see the following resources:

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Don't overlook FHL Place Estonia, Petseri items or FHL Keyword Estonia, Petseri items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog.

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How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information (often called citing your sources). This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"Estonia, Petseri County, Surname Register Cards 1921-1923." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2015. Citing District Financial Office. National Historical Archive, Tartu.

Image Citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Estonia, Petseri County, Surname Register Cards 1921-1923.


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  • This page was last modified on 6 November 2015, at 18:33.
  • This page has been accessed 8,247 times.