In partnership with the Estonian American Community, the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) has established endowments devoted to the preservation and promotion of Estonian American history. The IHRC is now regarded as the nation's premier resource for the study of Estonian American history. The cornerstone of the Estonian American collection was provided by the transfer of the collection of the Estonian Archives in the U.S., Inc. (EAU) from Lakewood, New Jersey, to the IHRC in 2003. This resource, totaling over 1,000 linear feet in volume, documents the wide-ranging cultural, educational, political, and religious dimensions of the Estonian American community in unparalleled depth.
The collection is especially strong in materials relating to organizational activities that mirror the cultural and social needs of the post-World War II Estonian communities. These consist of personal papers, organizational records, and materials published by national and regional associations that fostered the associational life of Estonian American communities. Among the newspaper titles are extensive runs of Meie Elu (Our Life) and Vaba Eesti Sona (Free Estonian Word). In addition to the EAU archives, the manuscript collections include the records of the Estonian Association of Minnesota, the papers of Estonian American scholar Matti Kaups, and the extensive records of the Joint Baltic American National Committee.
(Photo: Cover photograph from "MEIE TEE" (Our Road), 1955)
The first goal, establishing an Estonian American fellowship for qualified graduate students, has been met. The "Hildegard and Gustav Must" Graduate Fellowship will annually support a graduate student engaged in studies related to Estonian American history and culture.
Efforts are now underway toward the remaining goals which focus on bringing knowledge of the Estonian American experience to the widest possible audience. Activities include publications, exhibitions, scholarly lectures and symposia, research assistance grants, public discussions, media programs, teacher workshops, and more.
As a national initiative, the creation of the Estonian American Studies Fund will raise public consciousness of Estonian American history, foster wider understanding of the contributions of Estonian immigrants to American life, and make a significant investment in future scholars of the Estonian experience in the United States.
Follow the University of Minnesota Foundation link to make an online gift through the University of Minnesota Foundation's secure site. Type in the designation "IHRC: Estonian American Collection (Fund 7354)" in order to have your gift directed to this particular fund. You may also submit a pledge through the same Web page.