The Estonian Folklore Archives

The Estonian Folklore Archives (EFA, established in 1927) is the central folklore archives in Estonia, with its collections representing all the possible fields of spiritual folk culture. In addition to the collections of Estonian folklore the archives include the folklore collections of Estonian past and present minorities and the materials of the Estonian diaspora.

The first manuscripts (folksongs, custom descriptions, proverbs, etc) of the Estonian Folklore Archives collected in the Estonian settlements date back to the 1890s. According to the statistics of 1937 there were about 11 400 pieces of folklore ( every song, proverb, dance and game description listed separately) coming from the Estonian settlements. The major part of this material came from Russia, 2960 pieces from Latvian Estonians, 290 pieces from Finland and 190 pieces from other countries. In the 1960s and 70s the manuscript collections were supplemented with materials from various regions of Russia; the most important correspondents were Rosalie Otteson from Siberia (has sent 2860 pages) and Johannes Olev from the Caucasus (2930 pages and 6 hours of sound recordings).

In 1991-2007 mainly sound (498 units, ca 580 hours) and video recordings (144 units, ca 160 hours) were collected for the Folklore Archives. These recordings focused on the oral heritage and history of Siberian (Omsk, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Tomsk regions and Altai territories) and inland Russian (Samara, Saratov, Ulyanovsk, Kirov regions) Estonians and documented the cultural activities of these communities. There are some photos and manuscript heritage texts from these regions, including village and life stories of those born in Russia. The archives also contain some materials of Swedish, Canadian, American, and Australian Estonians.

The archival materials have been used to complete research papers on the diaspora heritage, publish anthologies, arrange exhibitions, hold seminars and conferences.