This guide provides an introduction to Baltic studies and helps with finding resources on Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian history, literature, and culture. These include books, periodicals, and primary source holdings at Stanford University Libraries or available electronically.
In order to get the most recent news about Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian studies at Stanford and elsewhere, follow us on Facebook.
Table of Contents
Although Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are three small countries with a total population of less than 6,5 million, they have a rich and exciting history and culture worth taking a deeper look at. The Baltic states gained independence already in 1918, but were violently incorporated into Soviet Union during World War II. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, all three countries restored their independence. Today, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians enjoy their freedom in democratic republics, which are since 2004 also members of EU and NATO.
SUL and Baltic studies
Until recently, SUL's Baltic collection formed a tiny fraction of its large Slavic and East European collection. This changed due to an endowment received from Kistler-Ritso Foundation, an organization founded by Dr. Olga Kistler-Ritso. In Estonia, the foundation’s greatest achievement is building and supporting the Museum of Occupations, which was opened in Tallinn in 2003.
The foundation's endowment to SUL made it possible to hire a person who would specifically curate and enlarge the collections of three Baltic States at Stanford, and would also collaborate with the museum in Estonia. In 2013, Liisi Eglit started her work as assistant curator for Estonian and Baltic studies.
In 2013, SUL, the museum in Tallinn and Stanford Video collaborated in making a short film about Olga Kistler-Ritso's life by interviewing her husband, daughter and grandchildren. Although the film focuses on Olga's story, it also helps in understanding the painful history of three Baltic countries and the fascinating stories of people who had to leave Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during World War II.
SUL actively collaborates with the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonia, as well as other institutions and organizations in order to enhance the Baltic studies by conducting collaborative projects, organizing seminars, conferences and other events, and exchanging ideas regarding collection development.
SUL's Baltic collection today
SUL's Baltic collection, which consists of more than 20 000 books, periodicals, archival collections, databases and other items, is oriented to the humanities, especially history, culture and literature. Items in Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, English, Russian, German and other languages are represented. SUL's current collecting primarily aims to deal with the second half of the 20th century, and the main target of collecting can be summed up using four keywords: occupation/annexation, resistance, freedom and recovery. In other words, SUL primarily targets material reflecting the violent incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union and the half-century long annexation, but also the last two decades of the Baltic states' history, which mark the vast transformation from Soviet states to democratic countries.
In addition to SUL, Hoover Institution Library and Archives has a reputable collection of books, periodicals and primary documents pertaining to Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian history and culture.
Key resources in English
Below is a list of some recommended books and periodicals that concentrate on Baltic history, culture, art, economy, law etc. and are published in English.
Recent aquisitions at SUL
On this page you may find constantly regenerated lists of SUL's recent acquistions on Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian studies.
Below are lists of some notable items on Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian history. The lists emphasise items concentrating on the second half of the 20th century.
The lists here give an overview of some notable items representing Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literature and literary studies.
Art, theatre, media
The lists below highlight select items representing Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian art, architecture, theatre, music and film.
Estonian art, theatre and media
Latvian art, theatre and media
Lithuanian art, theatre and media
Below are lists of select Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian periodicals covering various fields of study.
On this page you may find an overview of SUL's primary source collections pertaining to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Estonian primary sources
Latvian primary sources
Lithuanian primary sources
Databases and e-collections
Below is an overview of select databases and online exhibits of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian material that are accessible online. The databases listed here are searchable and on most cases provide digital images of manuscripts that researchers can use online free of charge.
Estonian databases & collections
AIS is a database of the National Archives of Estonia and Tallinn City Archives, which allows users to search for documents preserved in the archives. Generally, AIS is similar to the electronic databases used in libraries, which enable users to find books in the library's collection quickly and easily. Currently, about 99% of the archival documents held at the National Archives of Estonia have been listed in this database.
Saaga is a collection of digitized archival records from the National Archives of Estonia and Tallinn City Archives, containing copies of documents that have been under intensive use in their reading rooms and those of great importance for the users. There are new materials being added regularly, you can find more than 9 million images at the moment.
Fotis is a searchable database containing descriptions and digitized images of photos held at the National Archives of Estonia. It currently contains digitized images of more than 470 000 photos.
The register of maps contains descriptions and digital images of historical maps and plans that are stored at the National Archives of Estonia. It currently holds descriptions of more than 100 000 and digitized images of 30 000 historical maps and plans.
The project of the National Library of Estonia offers a large collection of digitized newspapers from the period 1821-1944. The collection can be browsed per title and year. Pages are offered as high-resolution images.
Estonian Web Archive is a digital archive of Natioanl Library of Estonia, which preserves websites important in regard to the Estonian cultural heritage. The archive currently contains more than 1000 records of websites in the subject catalog and two special collections (Estonians Outside Estonia and Elections 2013).
This database, the result of collaboration between 12 libraries in the ELNET Consortium, contains articles from newspapers, magazines, journals, serial publications, anthologies and collections.
MUIS is the online gateway to Estonian museums, giving everybody an opportunity to study the collections of the museums that have joined the system.
The purpose of CommunistCrimes.org is to foster international understanding of the impact of communism on societies. The portal focuses on a variety of events and their implications, from crimes against humanity perpetrated by communist regimes to transitional issues of post-communist states. It seeks to demystify communism and denounce rule based on repression, so that communist crimes would be duly condemned as atrocities committed by totalitarian regimes ought to be. In pursuing this mission, it gathers and distributes data regarding the activities of communist and post-communist regimes around the world. It supports scholarly research on communist regimes by facilitating access to relevant information - from country-based history overviews to digitising relevant primary sources. Moreover, the portal aims to be a platform for public and academic discourse on the impact of communism through mediating thematic news and scientific articles.
The database contains bibliography of fiction published since 1944 in foreign languages by Estonian authors living abroad. Each entry is provided with subject words.
The database contains information about notable Estonians who live(d) abroad.
The database contains current analytic bibliography of articles, published in the Estonian newspapers and journals of several countries outside Estonia. The aim of the database is to reflect all the original articles as well as the issues, dealing with the activities of the Estonians, living abroad. The database does not include reports about Estonia nor articles, primarily published in Estonia.
An overview of databases that are compiled either by genre or as a representation of the heritage of some region or field. In addition to exhaustive or nearly exhaustive text collections these also include anthological compilations.
The exhibit, composed by the National Archives of Estonia, provides an illustrated overview of the March deportations in Estonia (March 1949). The physical exhibit was displayed at Stanford in June/July 2013.
The exhibit, composed by the National Archives of Estonia, tells the story of Estonia's journey of gaining and restoring independence in 1918 and 1991. The exhibit is a great opportunity to get acquainted with some of the most important documents and illustrative photos of these turbulent times. The physical exhibit was displayed in San Francisco in June/July 2013.
Latvian databases & collections
LNDL offers books, periodicals, maps and archive of web sites. Photo, audio and video collections will be added that at the moment can be viewed on the NLL Digital Library web site.
The searchable database contains information about more than 23 000 fonds of the National Archives of Latvia.
The searchable database contains information about 6000 fonds and 45 000 documents of the State Archives of Latvia.
The searchable database of digitized images provides access to the church books of Evangelic Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Greek Catholic, Old Believers’, Reformed Protestant congregations, vital records of Rabbinate, revision lists of Livland and Courland and materials of Russian Empire Census (1897) in provinces of Courland, Livland and Vitebsk.
A multiple database search facility which incorporates databases contributed by the Courland Research Group, the Latvia SIG and individual donors. The combined databases have over 160 000 entries, referring to individuals living in the area now known as Latvia. The database is a work in progress and new entries are being added regularly.
“The Virtual Museum of the Occupation of Latvia” (project of the Museum of Occupation of Latvia 1940-1999)
The Virtual Museum is a broad range digital exposition with additional 3D elements. Through access to the Internet the Virtual Museum serves to provide its readers with a considerable amount of information from within the resources of the Museum's collection – documents, photographs, objects, maps, personal memories and other materials.
Lithuanian databases & collections
The Virtual Electronic Heritage System (VEPS) holds an enormous wealth of digital objects created under the Strategy for Digitization of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage, Digital Content Preservation and Access. The VEPS portal provides efficient and convenient access to thousands of cultural heritage objects for all who are interested in art, books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps and sound recordings. All this together creates an unique, rich and vivid panorama of the Lithuanian cultural heritage.
Portal for finding databases, e-books, e-journals and open access sources.
The objective of this Lithuanian Central State Archive's project is the preservation of Lithuanian documentary heritage by digitisation as well as its accessibility for everyone via the Internet. Lithuanian Central State Archive currently holds about 8600 titles of Lithuanian films or 46,000 film tapes. The collection covers the evolution of Lithuanian cinema starting from the 2nd decade of the XX century till our days. The Archive holds a large collection of Lithuanian newsreels from 1918-1940, films from German occupation period, documentaries created in Lithuanian Film Studio and Lithuanian Television in 1946-1990, first Lithuanian feature films, works of nowadays filmmakers. The virtual archive of Lithuanian documentaries will constantly grow.
This database contains Jewish birth, marriage, divorce and death records from Lithuania. This includes records which were microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, as well as non-microfilmed records indexed in archives in Lithuania.
This page offers a number of virtual exhibits, including the latest exhibitions "Vilnius Ghetto" and "In the united Europe".