Estonia, Petseri County, Surname Register Cards (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Estonia, Petseri County, Surname Register Cards, 1921-1923
This article describes a collection of records at
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Current Location
Pechorsky District, Pskov Oblast, Russia
Record Description
Record Type: County
Collection years: 1921-1923
Languages: Estonian
Title in the Language: Eesti, Petserimaa Uus Perekonnanimi Registreeri kaardid
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives of Estonia

What is in This Collection?

This collection will include records from 1921 to 1923.

This is a collection of new surname register cards for residents of Narva and Petseri counties who didn’t have Estonian names. Name cards are organized alphabetically by the new surnames.

During the first period of the Independent Republic (1918-1940), over 210,000 people acquired their own surnames. New names replaced those that were insulting (Kõnts "Filth", Sopaauk "Muckhole"), weird (Kollikivi "Ghost-stone", Pudrunahk "Porridgeskin"), foreign (Apfelbaum, Vassiljev), of mixed origins (Jahimann, Karubach) or undesirable on other grounds. 

Those of non-Estonian origin had to renounce to their original German, Russian, or other language names and take Estonian names instead. In order to change their names, they had to apply for a name change and then register the new one. 

Between 1920 and 1934, only 820 names were spontaneously Estonianised. Estonianisation of names effectively began in 1935, in which year there were approximately 34,000 name changes; by 1940, there had been about 200,000. Some of the new surnames were translations or equivalents of the old names, but others were simply chosen for their attractive sound, meaning, or association.

For an alphabetical list of records currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

In several instances in the history of Estonia, the government requested people to change their foreign language names to an Estonian name (referred to as the Estonianisation of names). Estonianising foreign-sounding family names was initiated in 1921, although the results were rather modest at first. The situation changed after Konstantin Päts established his authoritarian regime in 1934 and the process acquired a political dimension. Getting an Estonian name became the main cornerstone of demonstrating a person’s national unity.

This collection of name change cards is reliable for genealogical purposes as it was performed in front of a government official authority.  

Reading These Records

These records are written in German, Russian and Estonian. For help reading these records see the following:

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Estonia, Petseri County Surname Register Cards, 1921-1923.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

  • Name and surname
  • Ages
  • Place of residence
  • New name and surname

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select Record type
  2. Select Surnames to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information
  • Use the information to locate other records

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Consult the Estonia Record Finder to find other records
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation

Research Helps

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Estonia.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Estonia, Petseri County, Surname Register Cards 1921-1923." Images. FamilySearch. : 14 June 2016. Citing District Financial Office. National Historical Archive, Tartu.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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