Estonian Students' Society

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Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts
Coat of Arms of the Estonian Students' Society
Founded7 April 1870; 149 years ago (1870-04-07)
University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
United States
MottoFortiter in re suaviter in modo ("Gentle in manner, resolute in execution")
ColorsBlue, black and white
PublicationEÜSi Album
PhilanthropyArtur Puksov Foundation
Chaptersundergraduate, alumni
HeadquartersTõnissoni 1
Tartu, Tartumaa
WebsiteEstonian Students' Society

Estonian Students' Society (Estonian: Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts,[1] commonly used acronym: EÜS) is the largest and oldest all-male academical student society in Estonia, which is similar to Baltic German student corporations (should not be confused with American college fraternities). It was founded in 1870 at Tartu. It has over 900 members in Estonia and abroad.

In 1881 Society adopted blue, black and white as its colours. First flag was made in 1884 and this tricolour was later (1918) accepted as the National Flag of Estonia. Original flag is still in existence.

In the wake of Estonian national awakening many young Estonian intellectuals had contact to EÜS and the organization had impact beyond its borders. For example, it was involved with founding the Estonian National Museum in 1909 and the library of EÜS was given to museum.[2] Museum was later split into two and the Archive Library formed the basis for Estonian Literary Museum.

Building of the Estonian Students' Society in Tartu has been considered to be one of the first examples of Estonian national architecture.[3] Treaty of Tartu between Finland and Soviet Russia was signed in that building in 1920.

Former members of EÜS founded academic corporations Fraternitas Estica (1907), Sakala (1909) and association Veljesto.



The Estonian Students' Society was founded on 7 April 1870 (26 March 1870 according to the old calendar) by five undergraduate students and three Estonian intellectuals: Andreas Kurrikoff, Heinrich Rosenthal, Gustav Treffner, Hugo Treffner, Martin Wühner, Jakob Hurt, Wilhelm Eisenschmidt and Johann Voldemar Jannsen. They gathered to read the Estonian national epic Kalevipoeg. This was called the first "Kalevipoeg evening". These men decided to continue gatherings in the same form. This decision led to the founding of the Estonian Students' Society, which became the first ethnic Estonian student fraternity.

The 1880s[edit]

In 1882 the society tried to establish itself as corporation Vironia,[4] according to the model of Baltic German student corporations, but was rejected by them.

The name "Estonian Students' Society" came into use in 1883 when the organisation was registered with the University of Tartu as an academic-cultural society. This was also the first legal registration of the society.

In 1889, the society began to publish journals (Est: albumid), which consisted of scientific articles, essays and belletristic texts.

Fraternitas Viliensis (1890)[edit]

In 1890, the fraternity tried to establish itself as corporation Fraternitas Viliensis according to the model of Baltic German student corporations and was accepted by other corporations. The establishment of a corporation was stopped by the Russian official Nikolai Lavrovski, who was the head of the Riga Educational District. This was the last big attempt to establish the Estonian Students' Society as a Corporation.

Later attempts ended with the split of members and founding of the corporations Fraternitas Estica in 1907 and Sakala in 1909, which were formed in frank imitation of the Baltic German corporations.

Early 20th century[edit]

Building of the Estonian Students' Society

A new building was completed in 1902 after the design of Georg Hellat, one of the first professional Estonian architects, who borrows from art deco and national romanticist styles in his drawings. The blessing ceremony took place on 10–11 September 1902.[5]

The organisation was modelled after the Baltic German corporations and their traditions, but the beginning of the 20th century saw a time of change. Some traditions like compulsory fencing lessons, which were peculiar to the corporations, were abandoned in September 1904.

Estonian Students' Society was also made voluntary for its members, following the Baltic German corporations' general code of conduct (Allgemeiner Comment).[6]

In the Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920)[edit]

On 24 November 1918 the Estonian Students' Society decided to join in corpore the Estonian military forces to fight in the Estonian War of Independence. 13 members died and 63 students and alumni were awarded with the Cross of Liberty.[7]

During Estonian independence (1920–1940)[edit]

In 1925 Johan Kõpp's "Eesti Üliõpilaste Seltsi ajalugu I.1870–1905" (History of the Estonian Students' Society I.1870–1905) was published. The house was enlarged in 1930 according to the design of the architect Artur Kirsipuu.


Members of EÜS with their flag in 2013


In 1881, the fraternity decided to adopt blue, black and white as its colours. The first blue-black-white flag was made in the spring of 1884. Since appearances with this flag were banned in Tartu, the flag was blessed on 4 June 1884 in Otepää.

The flag gained more national importance at the beginning of the 20th century. The provisional Government of the Republic of Estonia declared the blue-black-white tricolour the official Estonian National Flag on 21 November 1918. Though this decision cannot be found in "Riigi Teataja" (State Gazette), it can be considered as legal assessment of the existing situation.[8]

The first original flag is still in possession of the Estonian Students' Society and is preserved in the Estonian National Museum. The flag was publicly displayed at the Church of Otepää during the 120th anniversary of the flag's blessing in June 2004 and during the 90th Anniversary of the Republic of Estonia at St. Elizabeth's Church in Pärnu in February 2008.

Coat of Arms[edit]

The present coat of arms was developed in 1890, when the fraternity tried to establish itself as Corporation Fraternitas Viliensis. It consists of three flags on each side, a knight's helmet, a shield and an oak corona.

There is a white open book on the upper left field of the shield. The book's title is Carpe diem, meaning "Seize the day", which can be considered as the guiding principle of the fraternity.

However, the motto is: Fortiter in re suaviter in modo, meaning "Gentle in manner, resolute in execution." It is written as acronyms "F.I.R" on the left and "S.I.M." on right side of the corona.

Historical ties[edit]

Estonian Students Society has partnership agreements with four foreign student organisations. In 1928, the Estonian Students Society concluded an agreement with the Finnish "Nations" (Nationes) Etelä-Pohjalainen Osakunta and Pohjois-Pohjalainen Osakunta of the University of Helsinki. This was the first agreement, concluded between an Estonian and Finnish student organisations.

In 1937, an agreement with the student society Austrums of the University of Riga, Latvia, followed. In 1991, a further agreement was concluded with the Finnish-Swedish "Nation" Vasa nation of the University of Helsinki. Estonian Students Society and its Finnish partner organisations exchange visiting students.


Members of EÜS in 2018

The organisation consists of two legal bodies:

  • Estonian Students' Society, founded in 1870 and registered with the University of Tartu on 30 December 1988, and with Tartu Municipal Government;
  • Alumni Association of the Estonian Students' Society, founded in 1884 and registered pursuant to the Non-profit Associations Act of the Republic of Estonia on 8 March 1995 (Reg. no 80055073).


Up to 1936, all members of the Estonian Students Society were without exception students of the University of Tartu. From 1936, students of Tallinn University of Technology were also accepted. This led to the founding of the Tallinn Chapter for undergraduates, i.e. active members. An alumni chapter in Tallinn was established in 1921. From 1945, various chapters of the Estonian Students Society were formed abroad by expatriate members and began their activities in Sweden, (Germany), Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Argentina.

Present active chapters are:

  • Tallinn Chapter
  • Pärnu Chapter
  • Baltimore-Washington Chapter
  • California Chapter
  • Göteborg Chapter
  • Stockholm Chapter
  • Toronto Chapter
  • Brussels Chapter

Chapters of the Estonian Students Society overseas accept students from different universities and higher educational institutions.


  • Hein, Ants. Maja kui sümbol: Eesti Üliõpilaste Seltsi hoone Tartus. 2007. ISBN 978-9985-9073-3-7
  • Kõpp, Johan. Eesti Üliõpilaste Seltsi Ajalugu 1870–1905, I. Tartu, 1925.
  • Grönberg, Artur. Eesti Üliõpilaste Seltsi ajalugu. II, Iseseisvuse eelvõitluses (1906–1917). Omariikluse saavutustes (1918–1940), Montreal, 1985.
  • Vivat Academia: üliõpilasseltsid ja -korporatsioonid Eestis. Tallinn, 2007. ISBN 978-9985-9022-5-7


  1. ^ The German name for the Estonian Students Society is Verein Studierender Esten while the Latin version is Societas Studiosorum Estonorum.
  2. ^ O. Kallas. Eesti Rahva Muuseumi asutamisprotokollid Archived 8 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Akadeemia. no 4, pp. 658–664
  3. ^ Eesti Üliõpilaste Seltsi maja Tartus — 100 aastat Estonian World Review, 16 October 2002
  4. ^ This name was later used by the academic corporation Vironia, founded in Riga 26 November 1900.
  5. ^ For further information see:
  6. ^ Vivat Academia:.. p.151
  7. ^ Vivat Academia:..p. 154.
  8. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 58°22′35.3″N 26°42′37.37″E / 58.376472°N 26.7103806°E / 58.376472; 26.7103806