National Archives of Estonia

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The building of National Archives in Tartu.

The National Archives of Estonia (NAE, Estonian: Rahvusarhiiv) is the centre of archival administration in Estonia since 1999.


NAE collects and preserves records documenting history, culture, nationhood and social conditions in Estonia not depending on time or place of creation, or character of data medium. NAE is a government agency in the domain of Ministry of Education and Research, including collection, preservation and access departments in Tallinn and in Tartu, regional departments in Rakvere and in Valga, as well as the film archives and the digital archives. Development of research is covered by research and publishing bureau, the supportive services function with the help of administrative bureau.

The new main building of NAE got the cornerstone in spring 2015 and will be publicly opened in 2017. The fact sheet of the new building is as follows: size of land area of 13,599 m², 6 floors, total floor area of 10,708 m², volume of 50,000 m³, repository space of 5,800 m², 26 repositories which can store approximately 43,000 shelf metres.


Family history research[edit]

NAE is preserving valuable sources for family history research: one can find data about births, deaths and marriages of Estonians as well as Baltic Germans and the others lived in the area. Also, the numerous personal files (records of university students, records of legal proceedings and of repressed individuals) are helping to reveal the fragments of the ancestors’ everyday life and character. Most of Estonians can draw their family lineage back to the beginning of the 18th century. Most of the handwritten texts preserved in NAE have been compiled in German and in Russian. It is possible to do a family research on your own and free of charge in Saaga portal. Guidance in the family history research as well as applying for an archival notice can be made electronically via the virtual reading room called VAU.


NAE publishes the historical culture magazine Past (in Estonian Tuna) and other publications which can be reached in our web shop.

History and legislation[edit]

Although NAE as an institution is young, the establishment of the national archives system started already at the beginning of the Republic of Estonia. Due to the Archive Committee’s first discussions on March 3 in 1920 and their initiative, the Historical Archives was established in Tartu as the holding place for historically significant institutions records, and the State Archives in Tallinn as the keeper of records of active institutions. The 1935 Archives Act strengthened the role of archives in the preservation and usage of society’s valuable records. During the Soviet occupation the archives continued their work, the regional archives, which were active in larger towns, were renamed as city archives and governed by Moscow. Independent management of the archives was restored in the 1990s and the National Archives of Estonia became active on January 1, 1999, in accordance with the Archives Act passed in 1998. On January 1, 2012, the new Archives Act entered into force. The main objective of the Act is to create optimal legal terms and conditions in the transition to digital records and archives management. The shortening of the deadline for transferring records to the archives from 20 to 10 years is the most significant regulative change in the Act. It enables risk management in digital environment for long-term preservation and affords use of records in one secure competence centre – the National Archives. A detailed regulation for the public archives and for the archival creators can be found within the Archival Rules.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 58°22′41.76″N 26°42′48.63″E / 58.3782667°N 26.7135083°E / 58.3782667; 26.7135083