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Frequently Asked Questions

    FAQ
  1. I searched AIS by my surname and found entries with different abbreviations in the references. What do they mean and which archive should I turn to?
  2. What records are held in Tartu and what records in Tallinn?
  3. What documents can be found in the regional departments of the State Archives?
  4. Why do I have to register before using Saaga?
  5. Why are some pages scanned twice?
  6. Why does it take so much time to display a frame?
  7. Why is it not possible to download the images of an entire book all at once?
  8. Is it possible to develop search options for the contents of the Saaga collection?
  9. Why are some churchbooks missing from the Saaga collection? Will they never be in Saaga?
  10. How can I communicate with other family history researchers and ask for their advice?
  11. Can I order digital copies in the archives?
  12. What are the opening hours of the archives and can I visit the reading room also on Saturdays?
  13. Is there a fee for a reader's ticket?
  14. What is a file?
  15. What is AIS?
  16. Why have the frames from one book not been joined into a single set as it is otherwise done when presenting texts on the Web?
  17. Can I also order the originals of records displayed in Saaga into the reading rooms?
  18. I know that my grandmother was born on March 27, 1892, but in the parish register the date is noted as March 15?
  19. My ancestor's cause of death is noted as "köhho töpe" (an archaic phrase for a disease in Estonian) in the parish register of the middle of the 18th century. Where can I find its present-day meaning?
  20. How do I know which congregation did my ancestors belong to?
  21. My father was born on August 15, 1932 in Tartu. Where would I find his birth entry?
  22. Which restrictions on access can the archives impose unilaterally?
  23. What kind of personal data is with restricted access?
  24. What kind of personal data is with free access?
  25. What is consideration?
  26. Does a researcher answer for using the personal data which has come to her/his knowledge?
  27. My father's birth place is noted as "Tecknal" in the parish register of the Türi Lutheran congregation. Is this a village or a manor and where is it located nowadays?
  28. What is VAU?
  29. Is it possible to study all archival documents within the VAU?
  30. Can I pay for copies also by bank card in the archives?
  31. Do I have to remember myself which records did I order the copies from or will the archives stamp the paper copies?
  32. Why are copy deadlines in the National Archives so long? I would like to receive the copies at once.
  33. Do I have to come to the archives to receive the copies I ordered?
  34. Can I order digital copies also to my email?
  35. Can I order copies just on the basis of reference codes, without seeing the record?
  36. I found a reference to the land registry file of my farm on the AIS. How can I order it to Tallinn?
  37. Does the researcher have access to all records?
  38. Is it possible to copy or print an image or a part of it?
  39. What is a session? How long is it and do I have to start all over again when it ends?
  40. If I do not know German or Gothic script, can I still do research on my family history?
  41. If I know the names of my ancestors and the congregation where they were baptised and married, but not the exact dates, which kind of parish registers should I start with?
  42. Are there ready-made family trees in the archive?
  43. How can I find the document I am interested in?
  44. How is it possible to study the records?
  45. Why is it not possible to borrow the records home?
  46. I would like to order copies from my grandfather's student file. How much do the copies cost and what kind of copies can I order?
  47. Is it possible to order paper copies of all records?
  48. Why are the copy prices in the archives so high? I know a much cheaper place, why cannot I go there with the record?
  49. Can I take pictures of records in the reading room with my own camera?
  50. Is it allowed to scan records with my own scanner in the reading room?
  51. What is the interarchival loan service?
  52. Is it possible to order all records through the interarchival loan service?
  53. How quickly will the interarchival loan orders be completed?
  54. How many records can I order at a time and for how long?
  55. Why is access to some public record restricted?
  56. What sort of access restrictions may occur in the National Archives?
  57. Under what conditions may you gain access to sensitive or private personal data?
  58. What is an archival notice and what is it needed for?
  59. Can I publish the data found in Saaga?
  60. Do I have to pay for an archival notice?
  61. How can I pay for an archival notice?
  62. How can I apply for an archival notice?
  63. How to fill in the on-line enquiry form?
  64. How do I receive the archival notice?
  65. What are personal databases?
  66. What is Linkbook?
  67. Why would I want to use Linkbook?
  68. Must one pay for the interarchival loan service?
  69. Is it possible to receive a digitally signed archival notice?
  70. How is it possible to use the digitised records in Saaga that have restricted access?
  71. What is the information letter?
  72. What is the register of maps and what can you find in it?
  73. How to search for a map?
  74. Can you order a copy of a map and how can you do it?
  75. How can you study a map which digital image is not available in the register of maps?
  76. Can you view the originals of the digitised maps in the archives’ reading rooms?
  77. Can you download the digitised maps to your computer or print them out?
  78. Is the register of maps connected to the VAU linkbook?

I searched AIS by my surname and found entries with different abbreviations in the references. What do they mean and which archive should I turn to?

The following abbreviations are used to distinguish the structure units of the National Archives of Estonia: EAA – National Archives in Tartu, EFA – Estonian Film Archives in Tallinn, ERA – National Archives in Tallinn, ERAF – National Archives in Tallinn, LVMA – National Archives in Rakvere, etc. Addresses and other contact details of the archives can be found on the website of VAU.

What records are held in Tartu and what records in Tallinn?

National Archives in Tartu keeps records originating from the middle of the 13th century until 1917 as a rule. From the period of the Republic of Estonia (1918-1940) there are the fonds of land registries, the University of Tartu, some of the Apostolic Orthodox churches, insurance companies and a couple of other institutions and organisations, as well as some private records created by families. National Archives in Tallinn holds newer documents (beginning from the 20th century): the permanent records created on the territory of the Republic of Estonia by central institutions, local government offices, businesses and other corporate bodies (with the exception of the local institutions established after 1944) in the course of their activities, mainly starting with the birth of Estonian nationhood, as well as the documents of the institutions and organisations connected with Estonia and several private fonds.

What documents can be found in the regional departments of the State Archives?

Regional departments (Kuressaare, Valga, Rakvere and Haapsalu) of the State Archives are collecting and preserving the records created or obtained by the public and government offices of the respective region and the state institutions subordinated to them, as well as the documents of local governments and the legal and natural persons in private law carrying out public duties, beginning from 1944.

Why do I have to register before using Saaga?

Also all visitors of the reading rooms of the Estonian National Archives are asked to register themselves. By studying Saaga, you are in the same way a user of the archives.

Why are some pages scanned twice?

Some pages have already been filmed twice due to the demands of the quality standard for microfilming: in case the information is better readable in some part of the page with one resolution and in another part with another resolution, then two frames of the page will be produced with different light-parameters. The aim is to bring the entire text to the reader with the help of two or more frames. Therefore the scanning of these double-frames is also necessary, as one frame supports the other. If variation of the scanning conditions (lighter or darker) results in better legible images, then frames will be scanned twice. Double-frames are thus inserted into Saaga on purpose, in order to guarantee that the information is complete. This does not mean that some pages have been left out.

Why does it take so much time to display a frame?

We are here dealing with a scanned picture or image, where all the text that can be seen, is actually a set of dots from a grey-scale. In order to enable this scanned set of dots to render all the information found in an old and often damaged parish register, there have to be as many dots as possible, which makes the resulting file very large. To display the scanned images on the Internet, their size has been reduced as much as possible by using special software. None-the-less every file is about 800-900 kB large. Downloading this into a computer takes time, especially with a slow Internet connection. We recommend to switch on the respective preference for faster pre-loading. You can do it in the Saaga environment, when you choose "Preferences" in the upper right corner and put a checkmark in front of the third choice (in Estonian: "Kasuta piltide ettelaadimist"). You should save the preferences when you have logged in.

Why is it not possible to download the images of an entire book all at once?

Saaga has been created for viewing images, not for downloading them in large numbers. These days one cannot be sure that the downloaded images will only be used for finding data about one's ancestors.

Is it possible to develop search options for the contents of the Saaga collection?

It is not possible as long as the development of software has not reached a level which would allow to transform old handwriting from often damaged manuscripts into machine-readable text. Handling the parish member lists in Saaga has although already become more comfortable thanks to the database Personal name indexes of Lutheran parish member lists created in cooperation with the Estonian Genealogical Society. It allows to search the so-far indexed parish member lists by surnames and to go directly to the referred page in Saaga from there.

Why are some churchbooks missing from the Saaga collection? Will they never be in Saaga?

As a general rule, all church records held by the National Archives of Estonia are digitized and available in Saaga. You can check whether the missing years are absent only from the Saaga collection or they have not been preserved at all or not yet handed over to the archives, through the information system of the National Archives – AIS.

How can I communicate with other family history researchers and ask for their advice?

Family history researchers are united by the Estonian Genealogical Society. The Estonian Biographical Center has created a free forum in Estonian for family history researchers.

Can I order digital copies in the archives?

Yes, the Estonian Historical Archives and the Estonian State Archives produce also digital copies. Scanning is possible maximally from A0 format. From the bigger records one can order digital photos. You can submit copy requests directly via your VAU account.

What are the opening hours of the archives and can I visit the reading room also on Saturdays?

You will find the opening hours of the reading rooms of the National Archives of Estonia here.

Is there a fee for a reader's ticket?

No, admission into the archives is free.

What is a file?

File is a record or a collection of records preserved because of its value to the society, state, owner or another person. It can comprise only few pages, but it can also be a volume, a minute book or an account book of hundreds of pages. It can be a seal, a map, a photo or a big photo-album.

What is AIS?

The Archival Information System (AIS) is the database of the National Archives of Estonia which allows users to search for documents preserved in the archives. Generally, AIS is similar to the electronic databases used in libraries which enable users to find books in the library's collection quickly and easily. Previously the existence of a record could be checked only by coming to the archives. AIS enables everyone to get information about a record on the Internet.

Why have the frames from one book not been joined into a single set as it is otherwise done when presenting texts on the Web?

Since picture files are several times larger than text files, forming one digital book would result in so large a file that downloading it would take several hours. Most computers, even very new ones, could not manage to open such a file. Neither would it be possible to move quickly between pages. A several hundred pages large text file might be about as large as a single Saaga frame.

Can I also order the originals of records displayed in Saaga into the reading rooms?

No. One of the aims of digitalising the collections is the creation of a usage fond to spare the originals and to guarantee their preservation for as long as possible.

I know that my grandmother was born on March 27, 1892, but in the parish register the date is noted as March 15?

The old, Julian calender, was valid in present-day Estonia until February, 1918. January 31, 1918 was followed by February 14, according to the new, Gregorian calender. Therefore you will have to add 12 days to the date which you found from the parish register when recalculating the dates. To an old calender date from the beginning of the 20th century (from 1 March 1900), you should add 13 days.

My ancestor's cause of death is noted as "köhho töpe" (an archaic phrase for a disease in Estonian) in the parish register of the middle of the 18th century. Where can I find its present-day meaning?

We suggest you to use the help materials compiled by our archivists. You can also ask for advice from other family history researchers via the Family History Forum created by The Estonian Biographical Center and the new forum in the VAU portal.

How do I know which congregation did my ancestors belong to?

For finding the right congregation you need to know where your ancestors lived. If you know only the village (in Estonian "küla"), you can find out the parish ("kihelkond") with the help of the Place Names Database of the Institute of the Estonian Language. If you know the rural municipality ("vald"), you can find the parish also with the help of the Register of rural municipalities on the Estonian territory and if you know the manor ("mõis"), you can find the parish via the Register of estates on the Estonian territory. But if you don’t have a clue of your ancestors’ place of residence and have no-one to ask, you might find the database of Estonian surnames Onomastika NET and the Personal name indexes of Lutheran parish member lists helpful. When you know the parish, you also know the congregation, because there used to be one church in each parish as a rule. There were also sub-congregations in some larger parishes which kept separate registers but also these can be found in the fonds of the main congregations. For instance if you were interested in the parish registers of the Kõpu sub-congregation you should look into the fonds of the Viljandi Pauluse congregation, and in the case of the Alatskivi sub-congregation you should look into the fonds of the Kodavere congregation. All this is applicable to the Lutheran congregations. Since the 1840s, in connection with the extensive religious conversion movement you should also count with the possibility that your ancestors might have converted to Orthodoxy. In this case you should look for their birth, marriage and death entries in the parish registers of the Orthodox congregations of the respective region.

My father was born on August 15, 1932 in Tartu. Where would I find his birth entry?

The archives hold parish records until July 1, 1926 when the Family Law Act of 1925 entered into force and the maintenance of vital statistics registration became detached from the Church. The biographical data starting from July 1, 1926 is being preserved in the local vital statistics offices of the county governments. E. g. if your father was born on August 15, 1932 in Tartu then we suggest you to turn to the vital statistics office of Tartu County.

Which restrictions on access can the archives impose unilaterally?

The National Archives has to defend a persons right to the protection of his/her private life and do it even if the record creator has not imposed such restrictions or if they have not been mentioned in the instrument of delivery and receipt or in the contract.

What kind of personal data is with restricted access?

Access is restricted above all to sensitive and private personal data. Please see a closer listing in the Personal Data Protection Act.

What kind of personal data is with free access?

As a rule, no restrictions on access are imposed on ordinary personal data (i. e. name, birth, death, marriage, baptism, husband or wife, children, parents, address, personal identity code, etc.).

What is consideration?

Consideration is a process of ascertainment whether the public profit that would be gained from using the data with restricted access in research outweighs the invadement of rights or interests of a private person which might follow from using this data.

Does a researcher answer for using the personal data which has come to her/his knowledge?

There are accidental and unsystematic personal data in the records of the National Archives which may be sensitive and private and should be with restricted access according to the law. Due to the amount of records and limited resources it is practically impossible to ascertain all those scattered information units. Therefore also each researcher has to acknowledge a person's right to intergity of her/his family and private life and take responsibility according to the valid legislation for using the sensitive and private personal data which has come to her/his knowledge.

My father's birth place is noted as "Tecknal" in the parish register of the Türi Lutheran congregation. Is this a village or a manor and where is it located nowadays?

Tecknal was a German name for Lokuta Manor and nowadays there is Lokuta Village. We suggest you to use the Place Names Database of the Institute of the Estonian Language, the Register of estates on the Estonian territory for finding the present-day matches for old place names and the Map server of historical administrative boundaries Kupits for geographic orientation.

What is VAU?

VAU is a virtual reading room of the National Archives of Estonia centralising all web resources and essential information aimed at archives users. VAU unites the information concerning the holdings, services and clients of the archives belonging to the system of the National Archives of Estonia and in part also the Tallinn City Archives.

Is it possible to study all archival documents within the VAU?

No, the VAU only comprises e-services and web resources of the archives and enables access to the information, regardless of the subject of interest, location of an archive offering the service or the opening hours of a real reading room. The records can be ordered to the respective reading room in Tartu or in Tallinn directly via your VAU account (tab "Orders"). There you can also see the status and history of your orders.The VAU portal does not replace physical archives, and in many cases – as for studying the undigitalised records andl as for consultations with archivists – it is still necessary to visit the archives.

Can I pay for copies also by bank card in the archives?

You can pay either in cash on spot in the archives or by bank transfer on the basis of an invoice (which will be sent to your e-mail address as a PDF-attachment) or with credit card / bank link (in the VAU environment).

Do I have to remember myself which records did I order the copies from or will the archives stamp the paper copies?

The archives stamps the first and last page of the copies from one record. If you wish to receive stamps with reference codes behind each copy sheet, you will have to pay a stamp fee 0,10 € for each stamp.

Why are copy deadlines in the National Archives so long? I would like to receive the copies at once.

The deadline of paper copies is usually within a week and the deadline of digital copies within two weeks. This is due to the singularities of the work. As there are many orders and one has to follow demands for quality when producing the copies, it is not possible to receive the copies at once.

Do I have to come to the archives to receive the copies I ordered?

No, the archives issue copies also by post, but in this case you will have to pay a postage in addition to the cost of copies. It is possible to download digital copies through the archives' ftp-server.

Can I order digital copies also to my email?

No, but it is possible to download digital copies through the archives' ftp-server.

Can I order copies just on the basis of reference codes, without seeing the record?

Yes, you can. Nevertheless, we suggest to always take a look at the records with your own eyes if possible. In addition to the necessary information for the researcher, the records often contain also less important documents which may not always be essential for copying. In order to avoid later misunderstandings it would be good if the researcher himself/herself selected the material for copying.

I found a reference to the land registry file of my farm on the AIS. How can I order it to Tallinn?

If you know full references, you can order records of other archives directly via your VAU account (–> tab "Orders")! There you can also see the status and history of your orders.

Does the researcher have access to all records?

The National Archives of Estonia (like all public archives) enables access to the records preserved in the archives. Access to the public information is every man's right. Exceptions to this are made on only two occasions: to defend important public interests, and to protect persons from making the details of their private lives public. For that reason some of the public records have restricted access (the Archives Act § 42). In order to decide whether the researcher is justified to use a record with restricted access, the archives ask to fill in a special request form. The digitised records that are available in the Saaga environment are not issued to the reading rooms.

Is it possible to copy or print an image or a part of it?

Yes, it is. For maximum quality, open the image in pdf-format, find the button Select Image from the tools bar of the Acrobat Reader programme, select the whole image or a part of it by holding down the left mouse key. Then copy the selection by clicking the right mouse key, open e.g. a word processing programme and paste the image there. For better results, we recommend to choose zeros for the margins.

What is a session? How long is it and do I have to start all over again when it ends?

Session is an hourlong working period, during which a logged-on Saaga-user can move around in the Saaga environment. It is necessary for freeing the server from expired information and avoiding overload. When a session ends, the logon window opens. After re-entering your user name and password you can continue viewing the record right where you were left off when the session ended.

If I do not know German or Gothic script, can I still do research on my family history?

Yes, you can, if you have enough interest and patience. You may want to borrow a manual teaching Gothic script from your public library. Reading exercises can also been done on the homepage of archive school of the National Archives of Estonia.

If I know the names of my ancestors and the congregation where they were baptised and married, but not the exact dates, which kind of parish registers should I start with?

In this case it would be best to start with parish member lists, where you might find the dates for birth and death. With the help of these it will be easier to find the respective entries from the parish registers.

Are there ready-made family trees in the archive?

No (except for some Baltic German families), the research on one's family is to be carried out by oneself. This presumes an extensive research with different sources which might take months, even years to complete. There is a text "Genealogy" at the homepage of virtual reading room where our archivists have written down a detailed guide for everyone who would like to find out more about their roots in Estonia.

How can I find the document I am interested in?

To get information from AIS you can choose between the buttons "Search" (in Estonian "Otsi") and "Advanced Search" ("Detailotsing"). Both of them have their advantages depending on what you are searching for and what information you already have. The "Search" screen makes AIS as easy to use as possible. The form gives you only one box for your keyword(s). Simply type in the keyword(s) you are interested in and press the "Search" button. As a result, you will get all the titles of the records that have been described using your keyword. If you click on a record's title, you can also see which fonds does it belong to (where has it once been created, i.e. its provenance). Please notice that most of the titles of records are in Estonian, but also in Russian, German and Swedish. There are only a few records titled in English, French or some other language on AIS. Sometimes it is better to use the "Advanced Search". For example, when you need a record from a long list of similar ones or you know that a record dates earlier than a certain date, or you know the exact archival reference of a record. Further instructions can be found on the website of AIS.

How is it possible to study the records?

The records cannot be borrowed home, they can be viewed only in the archives or through the web portal of digitised resources Saaga which comprises the most usable records of the National Archives. From the reference numbers on AIS you can see which archives holds the record you are interested in. Each archives has a code in its reference: EAA- National Archives in Tartu, ERA - National Archives in Tallinn, EFA -the Estonian Film Archives in Tallinn, TLA - Tallinn City Archives, LVMA - National Archives in Rakvere, etc. The records can be ordered to the respective reading room in Tartu or in Tallinn directly via your VAU account ("Order", in Estonian: "Telli"). If a record is already available digitally on the web (Saaga), there is a direct link "View the document" (in Estonian: "Vaata dokumenti") in its entry on AIS.

Why is it not possible to borrow the records home?

The Archives Act § 41 forbids to issue records outside the public archives. Each document is unique, irreplaceable and in most cases manuscriptal. There is only one of each document and therefore quite strict demands have been imposed in order to ensure their longest possible preservation.

I would like to order copies from my grandfather's student file. How much do the copies cost and what kind of copies can I order?

For placing a copy order, please login to your VAU account (or register yourself as a user if you do not have a user account yet), then click on the tab "Orders", enter the reference code of the record you are interested in (e.g. EAA.1187.1.100), choose "Copy order" in the field "Order Type".

The archives belonging to the National Archives system offer different technical solutions for making copies.

Is it possible to order paper copies of all records?

No, it is not. Please note that we do not make any Xerox copies: • of vellums and parchment bindings; • of fragile or damaged items; • of documents with wax seals; • of folded plans, drawings or maps, in case copying may be harmful.

Why are the copy prices in the archives so high? I know a much cheaper place, why cannot I go there with the record?

This is forbidden by the Archives Act § 41. The reason lies above all in the protection of records. Each copying damages the record – the light, heat, folding, etc cause irreversible changes in the paper and ink structure. Therefore it should be done in the most conscious and professional way.

Can I take pictures of records in the reading room with my own camera?

Yes, you can, but first you should notify the reading room staff and fill in a special form. It is not allowed to use a flash.

Is it allowed to scan records with my own scanner in the reading room?

No, it is not. Each copying damages the record. In the archives the scanning is made by specialists in order to minimise the physical and optical damage.

What is the interarchival loan service?

The interarchival loan service is a temporary exchange of records between the archives (except for the Estonian Film Archives) belonging to the National Archives of Estonia. It allows reading room visitors to use the records of other archives.

Is it possible to order all records through the interarchival loan service?

The following records are generally not issued via the interarchival loan service: a) records in poor physical condition; b) photos and glass negatives, maps, plans, vellums and parchment bindings, documents with wax seals; c) records of large size and objects; d) card catalogues; e) fully published, microfilmed or digitised records; f) records with restricted access; g) the most requested records on the spot; h) records of special importance from the historical and cultural point of view of Estonia (e.g. the peace treaty of Tartu, the capitulation act of the Estonian Knighthood from 1710, etc);

How quickly will the interarchival loan orders be completed?

The records will be delivered to the other archive with the transport of the National Archives. Orders will be completed by the 10th and 25th day of the month. During summer period (from 25 June until 1 September) there is no interarchival loan service.

How many records can I order at a time and for how long?

You can order up to 15 records at a time and use them for a month as a rule. The deadline for the most requested records is two weeks. You can prolong your order for another month if necessary. The deadline will be calculated from the day of arrival of the records to the destination.

Why is access to some public record restricted?

According to the Archives Act § 42 the general right of access to public records has to be restricted only for two reasons: first, in order to keep the details of a person's private life from becoming public, and secondly, in order to protect important public interests. Public archives have to deal above all with the first reason.

What sort of access restrictions may occur in the National Archives?

There may occur three sorts of access restrictions in the National Archives: 1. Sensitive or private personal data can be found both among public and private records. NB! These restrictions are imposed in part with the Personal Data Protection Act, in part with specific laws such as the Family Law Act, the Notaries Act, etc. 2. Data for internal use may occur only in the newer records delivered over to the National Archives because these restrictions are imposed with the Public Information Act. 3. Restrictions on access imposed by the transferor may occur only among private records.

Under what conditions may you gain access to sensitive or private personal data?

Access to sensitive or private personal data has to be enabled in case: a) the researcher's need for access arises from legislation; this becomes evident if there is a decision allowing access to a competent official who carries out an investigation or supervision or defines accident circumstances; an application for access submitted by the police, court, prosecutor's offices or other authorities; b) the researcher has a momentous reason; this becomes apparent in the course of consideration.

What is an archival notice and what is it needed for?

Mediation of archival information takes place according to the Archives Act and the Archival Rules. Archival notice is a document certified by an archivist with a signature, based on the data found in the archival materials concerning some event, subject or person. The aim of an archival notice is to establish and certify the rights of a person or an institution on the basis of the information in the records.

Can I publish the data found in Saaga?

According to the laws of the Republic of Estonia there are no hindrances to publish images or parts of images from Saaga. The only demand is that the published text or picture would be equipped with the archival reference (e. g. EAA 1248-1-38, p. 6).

Do I have to pay for an archival notice?

According to § 3461 of the State Fees Act one has to pay a state fee in the amount of 15 euros for an archival notice if it is needed for certification of one's rights or transactions in public offices. The following institutions are exempt from payment of the state fee (according to the State Fees Act):- investigative bodies, courts and prosecutor's offices;- notaries; - Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a foreign representation of Estonia (if they mediate applications); - Ministry of Justice (in case they mediate applications based on the International Agreement of Legal Assistance);- tax authorities; - bailiffs.

How can I pay for an archival notice?

Archive notice for attestation of rights and transaction must be paid for by the request bearer in accordance with the Law on State Fee (§ 3461), the state fee in this case is 15 euros. A state fee payment notice will be sent to you after review of your enquiry. The state fee or fee can be payed on the basis of this to the account of the Ministry of Finance with the reference numbers indicated on the payment notice or, by request, in cash on the spot in any of the archives belonging to the Estonian National Archives' system. You will receive an answer within 30 days after receipt of payment.


How can I apply for an archival notice?

It is possible to apply for an archival notice by filling in an on-line enquiry form on our webpage.

How to fill in the on-line enquiry form?

The fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory. Please include as much detail as possible. The more initial data an archivist has at her/his disposal the simpler and often also the more possible it is to draft an archival notice.

How do I receive the archival notice?

Enquiries will be answered as soon as possible but not later than within 30 days. Archival notice will be issued either to the immediate applicant or to the person appointed by the applicant, in the suitable archives belonging to the Estonian National Archives or sent to the post address given in the application form. The state fee or fee and charge for copies have to be payed prior to the issue of archival notice or information letter.

What are personal databases?

Within the VAU you will find databases that are made by either organisations or persons outside the National Archives. The contributor is responsible for the content in the databases, (s)he holds the copyright to the data and may withdraw his/her databases at any time. This is a collection of databases. Currently there is no way to run search against all databases at once. To search within the database, you first have to select database from the list. However, you can filter the list of databases by metadata (author, title, description, subject, time and place).

What is Linkbook?

Linkbook is a free online application that provides a simple way to save and organize bookmarks (links to Web pages) when conducting research online.

Why would I want to use Linkbook?

With Linkbook, you can add, browse and organize bookmarks in a single online location that's accessible from any computer. Linkbook has been integrated with several web based database services of The National Archives of Estonia in a way that makes adding and browsing bookmarks easy.

Must one pay for the interarchival loan service?

Yes, it is fee-for-service, one file costs 1 euro.

Is it possible to receive a digitally signed archival notice?

Yes, it is possible. It is the most convenient way to receive an archival notice and we spare so paper and preserve nature at the same time. When you fill in the enquiry form, please specify that you would like to receive the archival notice electronically. When the archival notice is ready, an invoice will be sent to your email address. And after the state fee payment has been received, we will send the digitally signed archival notice to your email address. NB! Please make certain that the necessary software has been installed to your computer which enables to open digitally signed documents.

How is it possible to use the digitised records in Saaga that have restricted access?

For this you should fill in a request form in which you ground your need for access, the aim and expected output of your research and submit it to the reading room which is convenient to you. It will then be looked through by the archive and the decision will be made in the course of consideration. If your request is satisfied you will gain access to the digitised record(s) but ONLY through the archive's local network on the spot in the reading room. You will get a permission for one year.

What is the information letter?

If the archival information is necessary for personal use or research the archives issue an information letter. The fee of the query is 15 euros. Please note, however, that the archives cannot undertake any extensive research on behalf of enquirers.

What is the register of maps and what can you find in it?

The register of maps contains descriptions of the maps that are stored in the Estonian Historical Archives and the Estonian State Archives, and the images of the digitised maps. Not all maps have yet been described in the register, and it is therefore recommended to use also AIS in parallel when searching for a map. The majority of the maps of the Historical Archives have already been described in the register, only the maps found among records, such as loan and real estate files, etc., are yet absent. The maps of the State Archives form a smaller part of the register. Please find more information about the map collections in the introduction on the front page of the register.

How to search for a map?

The register of maps is equipped with many help texts. We recommend to read the general introduction and to acquaint yourself with the search possibilities (on the front page) before you start making enquiries. There are separate help texts available also next to the Simple Search and the Advanced Search. It is always worth while to click on the lightbulb as well.

Can you order a copy of a map and how can you do it?

• If a digital image of a map is already available in the register of maps then it is possible to order only a digital copy of this map. When ordering a copy you should keep in mind that one of the most important parameters is the map format, price lists of copies can be found in VAU under the section „Copying services“. A digital copy can be saved onto a CD-R / DVD-R disk or downloaded from the ftp-server. NB! The archives do not offer the service of printing out digital copies.• You can also order a paper copy of a map if its size and condition allows to copy it with the copying machine and if it has not yet been digitised. Each order for copies requires separate handling and the archivists always inform the customers about different possibilities and conditions. Orders for copies should placed via VAU (tab "Orders").

How can you study a map which digital image is not available in the register of maps?

In this case you can order the original map by its reference code to the respective reading room. You can order up to 10 maps at one time. But we kindly ask to take into consideration that due to the massive digitalisation of maps it is not possible to order many maps to the reading room at the present moment. The preparation of maps (flattening, cleaning, repairing, conservation) and digitalisation is very labour-intensive and it may take several months in case of each single map.

Can you view the originals of the digitised maps in the archives’ reading rooms?

The archives digitise the maps primarily to ensure their maintenance and to make them easier accessible for researchers. The originals of the digitised maps will therefore no more be brought to the reading room.

Can you download the digitised maps to your computer or print them out?

The register of maps enables to download a file with the size 1748 x 2480 (A5). Otherwise you should turn to the reading room of the respective archive and order a copy.

Is the register of maps connected to the VAU linkbook?

Yes. The linkbook in VAU is integrated with the register of maps, so that it would be easy and convenient to save references. The icons  and   in the upper right corner enable to add a reference of a page to the linkbook and to browse the previously-added links.