• Estonian State Archives


The State Archives belong to the National Archives system and preserve primarily documents dating from Estonia’s proclamation of independence (1918) until today. The State Archives were established, in 1921, to preserve documents from active institutions of the young republic. The State Archives functioned during Soviet and German occupations. After the Second World War it was named Eesti NSV Oktoobrirevolutsiooni ja Sotsialistliku Ülesehituse Riiklik Keskarhiiv (ORKA) (Central State Archives of the October Revolution and Socialist Construction of Soviet Estonia) under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Independent management of the archive was restored in the beginning of 1990s; a former archive of the Estonian Communist Party became affiliated with the Central State Archive during this time. The National Archive of Estonia became active as an umbrella organization on January 1, 1999.

Geographical and Cultural Context

The State Archives contain collections from Estonian public and private persons, primarily:

  • government institutions and organizations operated by government institutions
  • local governments
  • government officials and other employees

Administrative Structure

For the administrative structure of the State Archives, see here and here.

Records Management and Collecting Policies

The State Archives collect public records of the functioning of institutions fulfilling public tasks (for example, constitutional institutions, government institutions, organizations operated by government institutions, government officials and other employees, and local governments).


The State Archive holds ca. 5,000 archival fonds and 3.45 million records. The collections contain primarily paper documents, but there are also videos, sound recordings and two parchment documents. The repositories are located in Tallinn at three different addresses: Madara 24, Maneeži 4 and Tõnismägi 16. The Madara Street building (completed in 2002) is the newest and is in compliance with Archival Rules requirements. Its holding capacity is slightly more than half of the materials preserved in the State Archive.

Archival and Other Holdings

  • 24 Madara Street: This location holds documents of the major state and military institutions from before 1940 (including the Office of the President, State Chancellery, Foreign Ministry; the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Justice, Economy and Agriculture; the Departments of Cadastre of the Bureau of Statistics; county land boards; the Board of Settlement, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the General Staff, etc.). Other records pertain to the activities (through 1940) of court and police institutions, banks, embassies and consulates, and municipal governments up to 1944 (except those of Tallinn and Harju County, which are in the Tallinn Municipal Archives). There are also personal fonds of public figures and eminent cultural figures who were active prior to World War II (K. Päts, J. Tõnisson, J. Laidoner, et al), as well as documents of planning and design offices. The collection’s most valuable and voluminous holdings are the plans and blueprints of real estate (land and buildings), and those of posters and memoirs.

  • 4 Maneeži Street: Documents from this location can be used in the Madara Street reading room.) This location holds documents of ministries and central institutions from during the Soviet period, as well as the records of universities and institutes, central hospitals, theatres and numerous other institutions and organizations of Tallinn. Personal fonds include those of public figures and eminent cultural figures from the post-World War II period. The last three years have seen addition of a new set of documents: personal records obtained from institutions and organizations that were privatized or abolished.

  • 16 Tõnismägi Street: Documents from this location can be used in the Madara Street reading room. This location holds the records of the Estonian Communist Party, Estonian Young Communist League, as well as other parties, unions and movements and those of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic and the State Security Committee from 1940-1991. There are also personal fonds (from Jaan Anvelt, Johannes Lauristin, Artur Vader, et al) and collections (records of revolutionary movement from the period 1903-1966, etc.).

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

All fonds have printed finding aids, which are available in the reading room of the Estonian State Archive, at Madara Street 24, 15019 Tallinn Tel: +372 693 8668 Email:lugemissaal.mad@ra.ee Fax: +372 661 6230

About enquiries in the archives, see here.

Much preliminary work can be done in the Virtual Reading Room. An online finding aid is available through Archival Information System (AIS).

Two guides have been published about fonds in the Estonian State Archive:

  • Liivi Uuet, Sirje Luide, Eesti Riigiarhiivi fondide teatmik. I osa, 1917-1944 (Eesti Riigiarhiiv, 1993)

  • Hille Oidema, Eesti Riigiarhiivi Filiaal (Parteiarhiiv). Fondide loend (Eesti Riigiarhiivi Filiaal, 1998).

Opening Times

Mon–Fri 9.00–19.00, Sat 9.00–15.00; on days before public holidays 9.00–15.00; closed last Friday of each month

Research Services

At the Madara Street location there is a reading room with consultants. Languages spoken by staff: Estonian, Russian, English. Visitors can use card files and finding aids, and PCs for use of online-databases and digitized records. It is possible to review films, view photos, listen to audio documents and subscribe copies.

Reproduction Services

Public Areas

Wireless internet is available in the Archive’s reading room. Password for the WiFi network can be obtained from the reading room staff. It is possible to buy publications of the Estonian National Archives. A break room and coffee machine are also available.


  • Entry added on October 13, 2014 by Meelis Maripuu based on the homepage of the Estonian State Archives and personal experiences. YV/ClaimsCon'06/online search