Sunday, January 19, 2014

My top 3 list - Estonian genealogy

Since my grandmother was born in Estonia I have been "forced" to dig into Estonian genealogy. I don't know Estonian which of course makes it harder. Everytime I see that an page is available in English I am happy since it makes it all so much easier for me to understand.

Looking into Estonian records it also helps if you have knowledge in German and Russian language since you might find documents in those languages as well. The top three sites I use when looking for information on my Estonian relatives are:

 1) Saaga

It is a free site to use but to see the records you need to register and the account is free. At Saaga I mainly look at the church records and something called Lists of resisents of Tallinn. You will find some helpful text at Saaga, like translations of typical record titles, for example Abielumeetrika means Parish register of marriages. One nice feature is that you can add bookmarks with links to records. I use that a lot. Easy to use, add, remove and add information about the bookmark.

Part of my list of bookmarks at Saaga
Here is an example from a birth book. Bottom right is the birth of my great grandfathers sister, Ida Seck.

Ida Seck birth

Ida Seck birth closeup.

Also at Saaga, an easy tool to copy a link to the record, to find the record of Ida Seck birth go to

Easy to get a link to the online record at Saaga

 2: Estonian Biographical Index

At Estonian Biographical Index it is possible to do searches for example a surname. You will see the result in a list and to look at the record it refers to you might need to pay with points that you buy. For example, 50 points will cost you 5 Euro. For me, it has been worth it. Even if the hit you get when you do a search is in an on-line free database I might not have found it otherwise.

Pricelist points as of January 19 2014

Here is an example where I did a search on the surname Verno. You will get some information in the list and then how many points it will cost you to see it. As you can see, at some places it says "all bought", that is were I have paid with points. Once I have bought it, I will be able to look at it again. With the information of fathers name and other information I am often able to know if the record is relevant to me or not.

Part of search results for last name Verno

Clicking on Voldermar Verno in this case will bring up a link to where the record is found, in this case at Saaga, in the Residents of Tallinn collection. Clicking on the link will take me to the record. Since it is within Saaga, I will have to login with my free account and then I am also able to add the record to my bookmark list.

Link to the record about Voldemar Verno

Voldemar Verno

Estonian Biographical Index have an ongoing crowdsourcing project indexing records where you can sign up as an volunteer. You can receive points as a reward to use in your own genealogy research. If you don't want points, since you did it for free it will also be free for others to look at it.  To read more about this indexing project have a look atühisloome/sisesta


3: Cemetery Portal of Estonia

As I have written about befere, when I was in Estonia in August 2013, I visited three cemeteries to look for headstones of relatives. Without this site it wouldn't have been possible. They have an easy to search database and if you find what you are looking for you will find a detailed map where to find the headstone.

If I use my great grandaunt Voldemar as an example again, doing a search I find out that he is buried at the Metsakalmistu cemetery in Tallinn, exactly at "vana osa, TK, 23/1".

Clicking at the Map button will give a detailed map where Voldemar was buried. I noticed that since I was there, there seems to be GPS-coordinates added.

Zooming out from the map shows that for me it would have been impossible to find Voldermar with out help. The cemetery is huge! I edited the picture below with the red arrow. Even with the help of those great maps I had problem finding the headstone of Helmut and Roosa Uggur which I have written about in another blogpost, The map was correct but the stone was overgrown by big bushes.

You will also find other relevant information about cemeteries, like history, address, contact information and open hours.


  1. Thank you so much for this valuable information. It was a lifesaver for me. I too have grandparents and father from Estonia. Thank you for this gift!

    1. Hi! I am happy you found it of use. Good luck with your research!