Celebrations to Mark the 50th Anniversary of the Estonian Archives in the United States

October 30, 2014

Celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Estonian Archives in the United States, took place on October 25th at the Estonian church in Lakewood. Approximately 50 people were in attendance, coming from New York and around Lakewood, New Jersey, as well as some guests from afar. 

Archive manager Enda-Mai Michelson Holland opened the festivities. Maria Belovas brought greetings from the Estonian consulate in Washington and Eda Treumuth from the Estonian Holy Spirit Church in Lakewood. Archivist Ave Maria Blithe read the best wishes that had arrived by mail.

Guests were invited to have coffee, kringel and blueberry cake. At the same time, one could view a very detailed display from the various collections of the Lakewood archives. The display was organized by archivist Ave Maria and the volunteer workers of the archives. The wealth of information and contributions by refugees of emotionally significant items, such as art and hand crafted items was very evident. One could examine or buy a copy of the English translation of Ferdinand Kool’s “DP Chronicles,” which was published just in time for the Archives’ anniversary.

Then it was time for speeches. Piret Noorhani acknowledged the perseverance and productivity of the volunteers and passed on greetings from the people at VEMU and the Baltic Heritage Network. She spoke about the refugees and recognized the role they played in preserving Estonian cultural heritage. Liisi Esse, the Library Curator for the Baltic Collection at Stanford University, talked about the collecting being done on the West Coast. It is encouraging that in the US, another Estonian centre is collecting, studying and promoting Estonian materials. It has grown a great deal in the last two years. Enda-Mai Michelson-Holland spoke about the past, present and future of the Lakewood archives. As some may already know, portions of the archived documents have been given to the Immigration History Research Center in Minneapolis. However, Lakewood still holds a large collection of documents, publications, photos, art and audio-visual material. An archivist was hired in the fall of 2013, after which the collection has developed well. The Lakewood archive volunteers have also worked on the Baltic Heritage Network ventures.

Those interested had the opportunity to tour the archives and to have access to the work being done with the collections. Many people enjoyed talking at length over a cup of coffee. One got the impression that the 50-year-old archives have reached the age of maturity, are making plans for the future and are hard at work. Let them always have clever and industrious workers as well as money to bring all their plans to life.

Piret Noorhani