Estonia Population

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Population Registers / Revisions

An important source in Estonia are population registers, which were inventories of the taxable population. These are an excellent source for identifying family groups.

These revisions were taken 1782-1858 to determine the number of those who would pay the poll tax. The inventories were taken in 1782, 1795, 1811, 1816, 1834, 1850, and 1857/58. In 1826, a smaller-scale inventory was taken in South Estonia. These registers were taken by parishes and manors and include the whole population of villages. This record was not compiled for non-taxed classes: the nobility, high officials, clergy, military, and foreigners.

Generally, these revisions list: revision number of household, name, parentage, age, age at time of previous revision, sex, nationality, social rank, relationship to household head, and change of status since the last revision of all those in the household. Sometimes the lists are accompanied by supporting documentation. Only in the 1811 records were women not listed.

One advantage of population registers is that with each new revision, the data of the previous register was first presented, then the changes that took place during the intermediary period, and finally the data for the current situation. Additionally, in each revision there are references to the respective person (or the parents) on the prior revision. Be aware that population registers may not list accurate personal information for every person. These registers were solely taken to compile lists of those who were obliged to pay taxes, not for genealogical purposes. This means that age may not always be accurate and movement within a manor or temporary absences from home were not often recorded.

The depository of revision of the taxable population is housed in the Estonian Historical Archives in Tartu. Gaps in these revisions can be filled by the records of revisions from manors, church congregations, communal governments, and municipal authorities.

There are some earlier revisions for portions of Livland that came under Russian rule at the beginning of the 18th century and were incorporated into Estonia. One copy was kept in the county treasury (uezdnoe kaznacheistvo) and the other was sent to the provincial fiscal chamber (gubernskaiia kazennaia palata). Separate lists were kept for the different social classes such as merchants (kupechestvo), townspeople (meshchane) and peasants (krestiane). Revision lists (skazski) are filed and bound by districts and large cities. [1][2]

Communal Population Registers

Communal population registers started in 1867. These relate to revision lists (discussed above) but are somewhat more exact (birth dates being revised on the basis of church registers). These lists should be used together with communal passport registers and lists of outsiders. Passport registers include both a description of the person and show exactly the duration and place of a person's stay outside their native commune. Lists of outsiders contain names of persons registered somewhere else but actually living in the commune in question.[3]

Resettlement

Due to restricted liberty to move, the temporary staying away from home was precisely listed in passport registers and permanent resettlement was precisely listed in resettlement transcripts (Umschreibungsliste). Resettlement transcripts recorded those who officially changed their place of residence, got more education, or socially advanced. For peasants, this meant becoming liberated from the peasantry class by becoming workers, tradesmen, literary men, or other such professions. Additionally, the acquisition of education (with a diploma of a land surveyor, chemist, etc.), entering civil service, or becoming a townsman liberated a peasant from that class. Some resettlement transcripts are housed in the Historical Archives of Latvia. [4]

References

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Estonia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1994-2002.
  2. Must, Aadu. "The Sources of Estonian Family History." In Eestlaste perekonnaloo allikad. Estonia: Kleio, 2000.
  3. Must, Aadu. "The Sources of Estonian Family History." In Eestlaste perekonnaloo allikad. Estonia: Kleio, 2000.
  4. Must, Aadu. "The Sources of Estonian Family History." In Eestlaste perekonnaloo allikad. Estonia: Kleio, 2000.