Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Travel Tuesday - I went to Estonia

This year much of my research focus has been on my Estonian side of the family. My grandmother was born in Tallinn. Her father, Eduard Seck, was born in Estonia and her mother, Julia Verno,  in what is today Russia. They all came to Sweden in mid 1940s. My grandmothers first husband was killed during WWII and after she came to Sweden she met my grandfather.

Coming to Sweden I think they lost contact with more distant relatives back in Estonia which became a part of Soviet Union. I need to mention I never met my grandmother (or grandfather). They had both passed away when I was born. My connection to the past has been my mom of course but Eduard died the same year as she was born and Julia when she was only five. My aunt who is five years older and also a cousin have provided me with most of the names and dates. Some I have been able to find out more about some I still don't have a clue.

When I got bitten with the genealogybug in 2007 I also had some focus on my Estonian side of the family. I discovered that some documents was only available in Russian. So, I took a Russian language class. All the time along I have also been meaning to take a class in Estonian language, every spring and fall I have signed up and everytime when the class was supposed to start I got an email that it has been canceled due to too few participants. Well, except this spring, I got an email they didnt have a teacher.

Anyway. I decided I wanted to visit Tallinn. I was in Tallinn in 1989, when it was a part of the Soviet Union. It was a project with young people from all over Scandinavia called Next Stop Sovjet. We had people coming from Soviet in the summer of 89 and then in September we travelled to Soviet. Living with local people in thier homes. First I was in Pärnu, then we went to Tallinn, back to Pärnu and then Moscow. We went by Sankt Petersburg also, well, back then it was called Leningrad.

I felt it was time for a reunion with me and Tallin. One of the first thing that crossed my mind was that is would not really be a genealoytrip. I was not going to visit any archives or do any research.  I was only going to visit two cemeteries looking for three tombstones. But I wanted to find interesting places to see and visit as well.

We were staying five nights with no time for sighseeing the same day as we were leaving. I used Evernote for my planning, a shared notebook. I put copies of the flight tickes, hotel reservastion, maps, links and specially links for genealogy in there. I also made a rough schedule for each day. Some things needed to visited a special day since it wasn't open every day, some sightseeing tours was only a certain day a week, some tours only certain times in a day if you wanted it to be in English and so on. So, I made that puzzle and it looked quite nice. Ofcourse, looking around I found some interesting places to visit. A couple of relatives were into theatre and when there, why not just walk passed that theatre and take a picture. Why not take a picture of the church where my grandmother was christened. Why not in case of time drop by the Music and theatre museum. And ofcourse, after founding on-line, one relative which I had no photo of would have a picture in the Jewish museum. He would also have a small biography in the Encyclopedia of Estonia, the 2008 edition. I was sure I could find that a the national library. I carefully typed down open hours and when I was done I had a couple of more genealogy related must-dos:

  • Taking picture of: Nikolai church, Russian Theatre, Estonian Drama Theatre, Russian school.
  • Museum: Jewish museum to look at a photo of my relative.
  • Cemetery: Visit two cemeteries, looking for tombstones, in case of time, visiting a third one
  • Library: Look into the Encyclopedia of Estonia for my relative
Besides from using Evernote to plan everything I also used Google Earth. Since I wasn't at all familiar with Tallin I felt I needed to pin out all the places on a map. That made it easier to see what places that were close to eachother and plan the days. I marked genealogy related things with one color, other places I wanted to visit with another color and I also looked up a couple of restaurants. When I was done with the map I exported it as a kmzfile, emailed it to myself so I could open it on my iPad.

My planning in Google Earth

So, success? Well, I got the pictures all right. Coming to the Jewish museum in the morning it was closed and opened two hours later. That day we had already two different tours booked but we managed to squeeze the museum in between. Cemeteries, check, all three of them. Coming to the library it was closed. That was the last day and I wanted to buy some souvenirs. So, while I did the shopping my nice boyfriend went back to the library when they had opened. When they finally found the right edition of the encyclopedia it was all in Russian and the liberians at the library at the time didn't understand Russian. So no luck at the library.

Anyhow, pictures and more posted in upcoming blogposts.

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