Photo: “Dolls in Estonian national costumes” Exhibition, Sydney Estonia House 2002
The Archive is a treasure trove of books, documents and artefacts chronicling the lives of Estonians living in Australia. EAA’s collection comprises a library and the archives. Much of the collection is currently being catalogued with the catalogues made available online. The library contains reference books and books written by Estonians living in Australia or post WWII refugees resident all over the world.
Some of the more interesting collections in the Archive that have been catalogued or are in the process of being catalogued include:
- Records of the Council of Estonian Societies in Australia, 1952 onwards comprising annual reports, minutes of meetings, correspondence, fundraising drives, flyers, political activities and newsletters
- Records of the Estonian Relief Committee from its early days to building and running the Estonian retirement village in Thirlmere
- Records of organisations in all States (local societies, folk dancing, scouts and guides, sporting, theatre, choirs, language schools, radio broadcasts) including annual reports, minutes of meetings, correspondence, fundraising drives, flyers, and newsletters
- Records of the Estonian Festivals, 1954 – 2018 such as minutes of organising committee meetings, correspondence, souvenir albums, programs, songbooks, photographs, sound recordings, videos
- Newspaper “Meie Kodu” 1948 -2019 as well as an index of articles, and in memoriam notices which are now available online in Estonian and English
- Collections of documents from Estonians living in Australia including diaries, journals, memoirs, correspondence, certificates, photographs
- A collection of oral histories, on tape or video, in Estonian and English, of members of the Estonian communities in NSW, Victoria and South Australia
The museum section contains many artefacts including:
- Flags from organisations in Australia 1927 onwards
- Artefacts from the Displaced Persons camps in Germany
- Estonian traditional handicrafts
- Memorabilia from academic societies
- Estonian money from various periods
The Archive’s Personal Papers collection has been catalogued and can be searched online thanks to the National Archives of Estonia. This collection includes documents from Estonians living in Australia including diaries, journals, memoirs, correspondence, certificates, photographs. There are currently 819 separate entries in the database.
This database catalogues in memoriam notices from 1949 for Estonians who have lived in Australia. The memoriam notices have been sourced from the Australian Estonian newspaper “Meie Kodu”, the Adelaide Estonian Society newsletter “Virgats” and from personal communications. It is not a complete record of deaths of Estonians in Australia.
The Einsaar-Mielen family papers
Gustav Einsaar arrived in Australia in 1896 and was a founding member of the first Estonian organisation in Sydney in 1912. He worked as a miner and lived in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney.
His daughter, Elizabeth married Arvid Mielen, the Honorary pre-war Vice-Consul for the Republic of Estonia. His son Len rowed for Australia in the 1936 Munich Olympic Games. Letters written home during the trip form part of the collection. Letters from the Einsaar children to their mother give a glimpse into the life of a migrant family in country Australia during the early 20th century.
The Mielen collection includes both personal and business letters, personal documents and artefacts.
The Jakob Lukats collection
The Evan Lumme collection
Evan Lumme arrived in Australia in 1881 and set up business in Ashfield NSW as a photographer. In 1900 he moved to Orange and remained there. On his death he left a collection of 3,500 glass negatives which formed the basis of a book “Faces of Mandurama” published by the National Library in 1997. The collection comprises copies of letters, personal documents and photographs.
The Kristof Kaldma collection
Kristof Kaldma was a prominent member of the Estonian community in Canberra. The collection comprises four volumes of “The Estonians in Canberra; 1948 – 1998“, correspondence between K. Kaldma and his war time colleagues, correspondence between K Kaldma and his family, photographs, artefacts and ephemera.
The Walter Põder collection
This very important collection comprises a diary and scrapbooks which describe life as a refugee in post war Europe, the journey on the migrant ship “General Stuart Heintzelman” bringing the first Estonian refugees from Displaced Persons’ camps to Australia and the early days of life in a new and strange land. It contains many newspaper clippings from Estonian, German and NSW newspapers in 1946-1950.
The Johann Tilk collection
Johann Tilk, winner of the Estonian Cross of Freedom, arrived in Melbourne Australia on 28 June 1951 on the ship “Skaubryn”. The Archive holds 11 volumes of his memoirs covering the period 1895-1951. The topics covered include childhood, WWI, the Estonian War of Independence, his life as a policeman, the 1940-1941 “red years”, German occupation, escape from Estonia, life in the Displaced Persons’ camps and migration to Australia.