Local History

Databases  

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  1. Farmstead, village
  2. Manor
  3. Commune
  4. Parish
  5. Source publications
Farmstead, village

If you know the present name of the village, you can find to which manor and parish this village belonged in the 19th century with the help of the National Archives' map server of historical administrative boundaries Geoportal of Land Board. After that it will be easy to find the maps of the area of interest using the Register of the maps in the National Archives of Estonia. With the help of these maps you will be able to study the development of settlement and the toponymics of the locality. The oldest and most precious maps that date from the Swedish era can be seen on the same site as digital photos.

From the 16th century the ploughland revisions have been carried out on the territory of Estonia, permitting a study of the economic development in the farms and their relationship to the villages. The wacka-books and inventarisations compiled in the course of the ploughland revisions are in the different fonds. Part of these are accessible in Saaga portal, the revisions in Estonia of 1725 and 1726 are already published in print, from 2008 the Ploughland revision of Estonia in 1732 is also available as source publication allowing electronic search.

People living in farms and the number of farms in a village can be studied by soul revision lists that were kept for tax accounting. Soul revision lists are digitised and available in Saaga. Information about local dwellers can also be obtained in the registers of the Lutheran and Orthodox churches and in the lists of commune members, that are as well available in Saaga portal.

In the archives there are rental contracts of farms (in the fonds of parish judges and commissars of peasant matters), and information about buying a farm into permanent possession can be found in the farm’s real estate register file. Find more detailed information about soul revision lists, wacka-books and parish member lists.

Manor

First administrative sight of the boundaries and location of a manor can be obtained in the Historical Archives’ Map server of historical administrative boundaries Geoportal of Land Board. For more detailed specification of the boundaries you can find maps of manors compiled at different times in the course of field measurements in the Register of the maps in the National Archives of Estonia. The oldest and most precious maps dated from the Swedish era can be seen on the same site as digital photos.

In the Portal of Estonian Manors it is possible to find which family a manor belonged to at a certain time, and in the case of many manors also the Real Estate Register, which is steadily developing, can be used. To what kind of manors the studied one belongs can be ascertained in the Register of the Manors in Estonian Area that shows also the parish and district the manor belonged to. If it is known to be a town manor, you should make a search with the help of AIS in the respective magistrate fonds.

With the help of the database «Coats of Arms of the Nobility» it is possible to see these coats of arms as digital photos.

In the course of the questionings or inquisitions that were carried through at ploughland revisions the «men under oath» also gave information about the state of the manor buildings, about the size and quality of manor fields and arable lands, about the year’s crop, about mills and pubs etc. From 2008 the Ploughland Revision of Estonia in 1732 is also available as source publication allowing electronic search. The inquisition minutes have been published as well. A lot of 18th century ploughland revision materials are available for browsing as digital photos in Saaga portal.

About manor owners, workers and servants living at the manors, and peasants belonging to the manors one can find data in the fonds of manors and manor owners.

Commune

The earliest form of rural community administration was a parish court (commune court). The minute books of the commune courts from the Tsarist era are already available in the Saaga collection.

The communes that were founded by the Commune Act in 1866 were at first estate communes and their boundaries were the same as manor boundaries. In 1890s the merging of communes began. Data about these joined communes and about manors that were left on the commune territory can be found in the Register of rural municipalities on the Estonian territory.

The majority of the records in the fonds of commune administrations (above all the lists of commune members) are also already accessible in the Saaga collection – from the Tsarist era, as well as from the period 1918–1940.

About other materials in these fonds you can get a preliminary overview and necessary data for ordering in advance to the reading rooms with the help of the Archival Information System AIS.

Parish

Among the maps in the Historical Archives there are many parish maps that are most easily found by the Register of the maps in the National Archives of Estonia.

The boundaries of administrative parish and church parish are not always the same. When studying parish history after the 1840s one must take a look into the archival fonds of both the Lutheran and Orthodox congregations. Thankworthy sources are church records, among which one can find, in addition to the parish registers, also cashbooks, church chronicles, minutes of visitations and many other materials. Parish registers are available as digital photos in Saaga. Minutes of visitations in Lutheran congregations can be found in the fonds of consistories. Information about the visitation protocols held in the archives is available in the Archival Information System AIS.

Source publications

The most essential materials of the ploughland revisions from the end of the 16th century, the first half of the 17th century and partly from the 18th century have been published and are easily available and comprehensible for everyone interested in the matter. You can order all these publications from e.g. the library of the National Archives in Tartu for reading in the reading room (clicking on the link opens the reference in the electronic catalogue of the archives' library):