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

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Access the records: Estonia, Petseri County Surname Register Cards, 1921-1923 .

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.  

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

Estonia District Financial Office. Estonia, Petseri County, surname register cards. National Historical Archive of Estonia, Tartu, Estonia.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

Register Cards

Key genealogical facts found in population register cards may include:

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

How to Use the Record

To search the collection, follow this series of links:

⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the Record type (Kirjetüübi)
⇒ Select the Surnames (Perekonnanimed) which takes you to the images

Look at the images one by one 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.

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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

  • "Delaware Marriage Records," index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed 4 March 2011, entry for William Anderson and Elizabeth Baynard Henry, married 23 November 1913; citing marriage certificate no. 859; FHL microfilm 2,025,063; Delaware Bureau of Archives and Records Management, Dover.
  • “El Salvador Civil Registration,” index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed 21 March 2011, entry for Jose Maria Antonio del Carmen, born 9 April 1880; citing La Libertad, San Juan Opico, Nacimientos 1879-1893, image 50; Ministerio Archivo Civil de la Alcaldia Municipal de San Salvador.

When the citation has been replaced with a citation specific to the collection described, please change the heading to "Citation Example for Records Found in This Collection".