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Estonian Collections

This page provides an overview of the Estonian Collections, illustrated by specific examples. We acquire material across the spectrum of the humanities and social sciences.


In the following text, codes which appear in brackets after references ([Ac.9089/2]) indicate British Library shelfmarks.

The exact size of the Estonian holdings is not known, since, like other country/language holdings, they have no separate catalogue and are dispersed within the rest of the collections.

The Estonian collections are the only Baltic collections to have been analysed and listed (see Salme Pruuden's Catalogue of books and periodicals on Estonia in the British Library Reference Division, (London: British Library, 1981). The catalogue, which excludes belles-lettres, lists 2771 items (as held in 1980). For the earlier periods, most are in German or Russian, but for the post-1945 period the majority are in Estonian. Overall, there are 1461 titles in Estonian, 744 in German, 295 in English, 147 in Russian, 35 in Scandinavian languages and 89 in other languages.

The collection is particularly strong in material on the history of Estonia and the Baltic region, in literature, language and folklore. Many series of the important learned societies are held complete, e.g. Beiträge zur Kunde Ehst-, Liv- und Kurlands (1868-1937) [Ac.9089/2], Eesti Kirjandus (1906-1939) [Ac.9076]. There are also several early rare grammars and chronicles, e.g. H. Goeschen's Manuductio ad linguam Oesthonicam (1660) [829.a.10], and Henricus de Ymera's Origines Livoniae sacrae et civilis, seu Chronicon Livonicum vetus (1740) [150.h.5].

Unfortunately, the period of Estonian independence coincided with a time the Library's foreign acquisitions budgets were rather lean, but there are a number of interesting publications from this period, some of them reflecting Baltic-British trade. Statistical and other official material of the independence period, e.g. Riigi teataja (1918-1939) [O.G.E.50], and Eesti statistika kuurikuri (1922-1940) [S.C.40], are also held. Currently, some 100 monographs in Estonian are acquired per year, mostly from our exchange partners. We have been trying to acquire the most important newspapers and journals.

Émigré material is also purchased, mainly published in Sweden and Canada.

Catalogues and printed guides

  • Explore the British Library
  • Salme Pruuden, Catalogue of books and periodicals on Estonia in the British Library Reference Division, (London: British Library, 1981) [2725.c.62]

Other resources

Estonian material available elsewhere in the British Library


Ela Kucharska-Beard, Curator, Baltic Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7940