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Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora (Piret Noorhani)

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According to different sources, the number of World War II refugees ranged between 7.5 and 30 million, including over 200 000 Baltic people who fled to the West among them. …

According to different sources, the number of World War II refugees ranged between 7.5 and 30 million, including over 200 000 Baltic people who fled to the West among them.

Baltic refugees were able to retain their identity thanks to the cultural and educational life of the Baltic communities that had begun already in the DP camps. Formation of the earliest cultural history archives dates back to the same period. After leaving DP camps, Baltic refugees moved on to Sweden, the United States, Australia, Canada and other countries where the local Baltic communities founded their archives that have been functioning thanks to the support and voluntary work of the community members. The aim of these archives has been to gather and preserve the history of the Baltic people in exile – archival materials, printed matter, art, ethnographic and other items. Memory institutions have formed the basis of national culture supporting and safeguarding the continuity of historic knowledge.

With the political changes of end of the 1980s, memory institutions in the Baltic countries also became involved in collecting the cultural heritage of the Baltic Diaspora, as a result of which part of these materials have been brought to the Baltic states. However, a large majority of the archival resources is still preserved abroad, in community and private archives, but also in national memory institutions of the countries with the Baltic Diaspora. In 2005 gathered a work group consisting of the representatives of the Estonian memory institutions and those of the Estonian Diaspora. Their task was to coordinate and facilitate the mapping and preservation of the cultural heritage of the Estonian Diaspora. By the present day the cooperation network has been extended to reach partners from Latvia and Lithuania as well as from the Latvian and Lithuanian Diaspora. In January 2008 was established a new NGO, the Baltic Heritage Network, focussing on organisation of thematic events, gathering of information on Baltic archives abroad in the portal BaltHerNet (www.balther.net) as well as on dissemination of archival know-how and best practices among Baltic communities.


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  • 1. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora Piret Noorhani Estonian National Museum/ Estonian Literary Museum
  • 2. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Baltic Heritage Network (BaltHerNet) www.balther.net, founded on January 11, 2008 in Tartu, Estonia
    • Goals F ostering cooperation among the national and private archives, museums, libraries, institutions of research, public associations and organizations that collect and study the cultural heritage of the Baltic Diaspora F acilitating the preservation of and research access to the historical legacy of the Baltic Diaspora Guaranteeing the preservation and open access to the Baltic archives and libraries abroad regardless of their location, and according to the legislation, regulations, and traditions of the host countries etc
  • 3. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Activities Archival work Mapping collections Collecting information Acquiring and maintaining collections, transportation of books and archives Copying and digitizing collections
  • 4. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Activities
    • Disseminating know-how Publishing guidelines Arranging visits of experts to Baltic communities for consulting
    • Informing the public and initiating academic discussion: Presentations at academic and other events Publications, exhibitions
  • 5. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Activities
    • Electronic gateway www.balther.net offers information on the archival collections and cultural heritage of the Baltic Diaspora, as well as on other related activities, in English, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian: Memory institutions, collections Databases, portals, references Billboard: events, grants, training, job offers News and reports Forum
  • 6. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Activities
    • N ew home pages of the Estonian archives abroad : Library and Archives of the Tartu Institute in Toronto
    • http://www.tartuinstitute.ca/
    • Estonian Archives in Vancouver
    • http://eav-bcca.balther.net/
    • Estonian Archives in the US
    • http://www.eausa.balther.net/?lang=en
    • Estonian Archives in Germany
    • http://ea-saksa.balther.net/
    • Estonian Archives in Sweden
    • http://rea.balther.net/?lang=en
  • 7. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Activities
    • C onferences
    • June 27 to July 1, 2006 International Conference on the Baltic Archives Abroad (Tartu, Estonia) http://www.kirmus.ee/baltic_archives_abroad_2006
    • July 7-10, 2009 BaltHerNet Conference „Accessing the History of the Baltic Diaspora“ (Tartu, Estonia) http://www.balther.net/?id=12752
  • 8. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Activities
    • Information days/seminars in Baltic communities : 2006 Stockholm 2007 Stockholm, St. Petersburg 2008 Hamburg, Toronto, Tartu 2009 Stockholm
    • Summer schools for volunteers working in the Estonian archives and libraries abroad and for other interested members of Estonian communities : 2007 Koke, Estonia 2008 Käsmu, Estonia
  • 9. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • History
    • E xpert team on the Estonian archives abroad (March 2005):
    • Estonian Literary Museum
    • National Archives
    • Academic Library of Tallinn University
    • Estonian National Museum
    • Tartu University , Center for Estonian Diaspora Studies
  • 10. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • History
    • June 27 to July 1, 2006 - International Conference on the Baltic Archives Abroad (Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu). 120 participants from 10 countries: Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Russia, the USA and Estonia http://www.kirmus.ee/baltic_archives_abroad_2006
    • “ International Conference on the Baltic Archives Abroad: Articles and Presentations” , Tartu 2007
    • http://www.kirmus.ee/baltic_archives_abroad_2006
  • 11. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • History
    • Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council (BAAC) www.baacouncil.org
    • founded on October 16, 2005 in Riga
    • G oal s
    • F oster ing cooperation between public and private archives, broadcasting and TV archives, libraries and museums that possess collections of audiovisual materials about the Baltic States
    • Encourag ing public awareness and interest in the preservation and use of AV archives as an  important educational, historical, and cultural resource Support ing the educational and professional development of AV archivists Conduct ing regional seminars, conferences and workshops Arrang ing training and work visits for archival employees and setting up appropriate scholarship programs
  • 12. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • B altic Heritage Network
    • Board:
    • Piret Noorhani (President, Estonian National Museum)
    • Gatis Karlsons (Vice-President, Directorate General of Latvian State Archives)
    • Linas Saldukas (Vice-President, Lithuanian Emigration Institute)
    • Karin Kiisk (Secretary, Tartu University)
    • Birgit Kibal (Estonian National Archives)
    • Audit Panel:
    • Tiiu Kravtsev (Chairwomen, Estonian State Archives)
    • Merike Kiipus (Estonian Literary Museum)
    • Anne Valmas (Tallinn University Academic Library)
  • 13. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Partners
    • Memory institutions in the Baltic states: Estonian National Museum, Estonian Literary Museum Estonian National Archives Center for Estonian Literature Abroad (Tallinn University Library) Centre for Estonian Diaspora Studies (University of Tartu) Directorate General of Latvia State Archives, State Archives of Latvia Occupation Museum of Latvia Latvian Diaspora Museum Lithuanian Emigration Institute Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania Vilnius University etc
  • 14. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Partners
    • Memory institutions of the Baltic communities:
    • Library and Archives of the Tartu Institute (Toronto) Estonian Central Archives in Canada (Toronto) Estonian Archives in the US (Lakewood, New Jersey) Estonian Archives in Australia (Sidney) Baltic Archives (Stockholm) Estonian Archives in Vancouver Estonian Archives in Germany (Köln) Estonian Archives in Sweden (Stockholm) Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada (Mississauga, Ontario) etc
  • 15. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Partners
    • Memory institutions in other countries:
    • Hoover Institution Library and Archives, Stanford University (USA)
    • Immigration History Research Center (USA)
    • Library and Archives Canada
    • Swedish State Archives National Library of Sweden Swedish Television etc
  • 16. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Partners
    • Baltic communities and organizations in the world
    • Organizations:
    • Ministry of Education and Research (Estonia) Ministry of Culture (Estonia) Office of the Minister for Population and Ethnic Affairs (Estonia) Archives Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Latvians Abroad – Museum and Research Center (Latvia) Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council etc
  • 17. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Members
    • 27 individual members
    • 4 institutional members
  • 18. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • Supporters
    • Partners
    • Nordic Council of Ministries
    • Compatriot s Program / Ministry of Education and Research (Estonia)
    • 2007- 31 projects
    • 2008 – 33 projects
    • 2009 – 24 projects
  • 19. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • BAAC Conference 2009
    • "Aggregation and Management of Audiovisual Content
    • in the Digital Space“
    • October 4-7, 2009
    • Vilnius, Lithuania www.baacouncil.org
    • [email_address]
  • 20. Networking the Cultural Heritage of the Baltic Diaspora
    • BaltHerNet Conference 2009
    • "Accessing the History of the Baltic Diaspora“
    • July 7 - 10 , 2009
    • Tartu, Estonia
    • www.balther.net
    • [email_address]