Visiting VEMU

January 12, 2022

Due to the current state of the world, Estonian Museum Canada (VEMU) archives hasn’t had a single visitor from Estonia but, lo and behold, all of a sudden we had four! Keep on reading to find out who these guests were and their reasons for visiting.

Near the end of 2021, Katariina Sofia Päts and Joosep Heinsalu from the University of Tartu arrived in Toronto. Katariina Sofia is in her second year of doing her master’s degree in history at the University of Tartu and is also head of the student body. Her studies include research on how diaspora Estonians supported the fight for the freeing of Estonia from the Soviet occupation in the years 1985-1991. Due to the abundance of material on this subject in VEMU’s collection, it was a necessity for her to visit. Katariina also conducted interviews with Estonians in the local community which will help further complete VEMU’S archives. She was already familiar with VEMU due to a project in 2021 where she, along with fellow student Anete Leht worked remotly describing the Estonian Heritage Society’s video collection which is part of the museum. We kickstarted this project in collaboration with the University of Tartu’s Institute of History and Archaeology professor of Archival Studies Aigi Rahi-Tamm. Joosep Heinsalu is a master’s candidate for the University of Tartu’s Institute of Educational Studies. He searched VEMU’s archives for historical educational materials, focusing on the work of the former director of the Tartu Teacher’s Seminar, Juhan Tork. Joosep’s interviews conducted with local Estonians will also contribute to VEMU’s collection. Katariina and Joosep both belong to the University of Tartu’s Senate as student representatives and as such very fittingly presented an informative online lecture, during their time here, on the lives of university students and the state of higher education in current Estonia.

For a month in January and February, Lea Teedema and Astri Schönfelder from the Estonian National Archives were here working with VEMU’s archives. This was the third stage of a long-term collaborative project between two heritage institutes. Archivists from the National Archives come to VEMU to help quicken the process of getting our document archives in order; professionals work efficiently and get the job done in a more timely manner. Recently, work on the Estonian Central Council in Canada archives has resumed and the personal archival material of Elmar Tampõld, Elmar Järvesoo, Laine Pant, and Juta Ilves has also continued to be sorted. The project is sponsored by VEMU as well as the Estonian National Archives and by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research through the Global Estonian Program (previously Compatriots Program).