Resource Guide: Estonia
Created by Aleksandrs Feigmanis in January 2023
Conducting research in Estonia is easier than in many other countries, because most of the archival records are well digitalized.
Of course, for best results during research in the archives or in the press, you need to know Estonian, German and Russian languages, or at least, German and Russian.
My advice is to start with the Estonian archives database: ais.ra.ee
This database includes the titles of all files held in Estonian National Archives in Tartu and in the Estonian National Archives in Tallinn from the Middle Ages until around the year 2000.
You can search in this database by any word (for example Judische—Jewish in the German language) or by any family name. If you type, for example, the surname “Levin” in the search window and click “search” you will receive the titles of all files where the surname Levin is mentioned.
Now you can choose which files you wish to look through, to order those files in the archives, to be able to come to the archives to peruse the files in person.
The address of Estonian National archives in Tartu is:
National Archives in Tartu: Nooruse Street 3, Tartu, Estonia; e-mail: [email protected]
This is a nice modern building with a large library and access to computers.
The address of Estonian National archives in Tallinn is:
National Archives in Tallinn, Madara Street 24, Tallinn, Estonia
e-mail: [email protected]
A more modern and complete version of the Estonian archival databases, you will find on the website of the Estonian National Archives (https://www.ra.ee/vau/index.php/en).
When you open this link, please go to SAAGA, digitized archival sources. In Saaga you will find the “Judaica” department via the following link:
For research in Saaga, registration is required. After registration you will receive access to a searchable database, where you can directly order the files you wish to look through in paper version in the archives in Tartu or in Tallinn.
In addition, in the Saaga website you obtain direct access online to Estonian vital statistical records, including Jewish records, and to lists and censuses of the Jewish population prior to World War II. Note, please, that on Saaga you will find what is digitized, but a lot of records still exist in paper version only.
If you wish to search the Estonian historical press (by any word or family name or first name or town—from 1811 till 2017), there is a searchable website:
Of course, as mentioned above, for best results during research in archives or in the press, you need to know Estonian, German and Russian languages, or at least German and Russian.
Aleksandrs Feigmanis is a genealogist, based in Riga, Latvia.