ESTONIAN ACADEMY
PUBLISHERS
eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
PUBLISHED
SINCE 1997
 
Acta cover
Acta Historica Tallinnensia
ISSN 1736-7476 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-2925 (Print)

CLAIMING ETHNICITY IN OVERLAPPING DIASPORIC CONDITIONS: ESTONIAN AMERICANS AND ACADEMIC MOBILITY DURING THE COLD WAR; pp. 106–124

Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/hist.2015.1.05

Author
Maarja MERIVOO-PARRO

Abstract

Estonian history is saturated with episodes of both voluntary and forced migration that have brought about the emergence of a rather substantial global diaspora with diverse levels of attachment to the present day Estonia. When observing their mentality and its representations, the plurality of remembrance becomes evident on a number of levels – the expatriate communities directedness towards Estonia-proper on the one hand and Estonia’s openness to its expatriate communities on the other. A slightly more evasive subject matter is the relationship between various memory cultures within the diaspora communities. Investigating educational aspects of Estonian refugee diaspora culture opens up a rare vista onto the lived reality of crossing these political and mental borderlines. From the emergence of supplemental schools in America to the creation of the study-in-Finland grant by the Estonian Students Fund in the US, this article explores implications of academic mobility (or in some cases academic nomadism) with regard to ethnicity. It provides insight into the very real tensions that emerged from the overlapping of diasporic conditions during students’ short-term migration.


References

1. This article is written based on research conducted while I was a visiting Fulbright scholar at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and is part of the Estonian Research Council project ETF9066 Ethnic and National in Estonian Diaspora Communities.

2. The term “supplemental” was officially dropped with the decision by some 70 participants of the Teachers Day held in New York in April of 1970. Since the name change did not have an effect on how schools were run or participated in, this text will not differentiate between pre- and post-1970, but will use “Estonian schools” and “Estonian supplemental schools” interchangeably, if not otherwise noted. Various documents and letters from the Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools to managers and patrons of Estonian schools. Box 1, Folder 6. The Albany-Schenectady Eesti Ühing (Estonian Association in Albany and Schenectady, New York) Records. Immigration History Research Center and Archives, University of Minnesota.

3. Documentation about supplemental schools. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

p4. Luhaäär Linask, K. An Historical Study of Selected Estonian Supplementary Schools in the United States and Canada from 1950 to the Present. PhD dissertation. University of Connecticut, UMI Dissertation Services, 1978, 70. Printed in 1993.

5. There was also a school in Woodstock, Illinois, but it was not included in the statistics because it never made it through the school year. USA-s asuvate Eesti Täienduskoolide aruanne 1950/51. õ.-a. kohta. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records.

6. Documentation about supplemental schools. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

7. Meie täienduskoolid USA-s. Gaston Randvee. Box 1, Folder 2. Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records.

8. Eesti koolide USA-s õpilaste arv. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti koolid USA-s ja nende õpilaste koos­seis 1968/69 õppeaastast alates. Box 1, Folder 2. Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records.

9. Documentation about supplemental schools. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

10. All statistics of course only reflect the trends for the Estonians in America who were eager to make an effort to maintain ethnicity while at the same time being able and willing to sacrifice money and time to have their offspring educated at the supplemental schools. There were many who for logistical, financial, personal or other reasons were not able to get involved with supplemental schools as well as those who did not want to. It is very difficult to ascertain the exact number of these persons and their ratio within the Estonian populace. Educated con­temporary guesses deemed them to comprise of approximately one thousand or slightly more persons with half of them involved with other structured Estonian activities one way or another. Meie täienduskoolid USA-s. Gaston Randvee. Box 1, Folder 2. The Eesti Koolide Keskus (Coordinating Center for Estonian Supplemental Schools) Records; Luhaäär Linask, K. An Historical Study of Selected Estonian Supplementary Schools in the United States and Canada from 1950 to the Present, 79.

11. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond USA-s. Põhikord. Vastu võetud asutamiskoosolekul 8. jaanuar 1950. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

12. During all stages of my postsecondary education, I too have been the recipient of several EstfUSA scholarships, which have significantly widened my horizons in terms of research and given me the opportunity to engage with archival materials as well as conduct oral history work in Canada and the United States. I will always be indebted and grateful for that. My personal history with the foundation is part of the reason why exploring scholarship applications seemed a particularly inviting exercise. In a way, I share this institutional space with my unsuspecting informants who were born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and wrote the applications in question in the 1960s and 1970s.

13. http://www.esfusa.org/ajalugu.html (search conducted: July 18, 2015).

14. Certificate of incorporation of Estonian Students Fund in USA, inc. p. 4. May 1, 1961. Box 1, Folder 1. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

15. Scholarship application of L. O. Folder Lellepi Fond 1976. Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

16. Scholarship application of L. P. Folder Lellepi Fond 1977. The Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

17. Milwaukee Eesti Rahvusgrupp (Estonian Society of Milwaukee) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

18. http://www.esfusa.org/ajalugu.html (search conducted: July 18, 2015); Lellep, Otto G. Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

19. Letter from a lawyer to Otto G. Lellep regarding his prospects of creating a fund within EstfUSA. Dec. 7, 1960. Box 1, Folder 5. Otto G. Lellep’s correspondence with Helmo Raag and others 1960–1974. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

20. Box 1, Folder 5. Otto G. Lellep’s correspondence with Helmo Raag and others 1960–1974. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

21. Memoirs of Otto G. Lellep. Manuscript. Lellep, Otto G. Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

22. A young woman from Milwaukee states the fact that she is currently reading the unpublished memoirs of Otto G. Lellep which she received through a family connection as part of her rationale for nominating herself. L. K. Scholarship application. Box 3, Folder 43. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

23. K. R. scholarship application. Folder Lellepi Fond 1978. Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

24. T. L. scholarship application. Folder Lellepi Fond 1980. Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

25. I. H. scholarship application. Folder Lellepi Fond 1978. Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

26. Various documents. Box 2, Folder 27. Applications for scholarships and additional corres­pondence A-M, 1969. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

27. Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

28. Ibid.

29. Letter from Helmo Raag to P. R. March 2, 1959. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

30. Draft of Helmo. Raag’s letter to Helsinki University Student Association. Box 1, Folder 2. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

31. Letter from H. S. to the EstfUSA. December 5, 1968. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

32. P. to R. 24 March 1969. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

33. Letter from H. S. to EstfUSA. December 5, 1968. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

34. Letter from A. P. to EstfUSA. December 28, 1968. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

35. Letter from E. O. to Helmo Raag. December 12, 1961; letter from Helmo Raag to E. O. January 1, 1962. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

36. See for example: letter from H. S. to EstfUSA. December 5, 1968. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

37. Various documents and correspondence. Box 1, folder 2. Correspondence with donors 1951–1965. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

38. Letter from Helmo Raag to H. M. March 31, 1959. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

39. Letter from H. M. to the board of EstfUSA. April 14, 1959. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

40. See for example: Letter from M. R. to Helmo Raag. November 30, 1960. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

41. See for example: Raento, P. (guest ed.). Finnishness in Finland and North America: constituents, changes, and challenges. – Journal of Finnish Studies, 2005, 9, 2.

42. Zake, I. American Latvians: Politics of a Refugee Community. Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, 2010.

43. Various documents and correspondence. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

44. Grabbi, H. Helmo Raag – IN MEMORIAM. July 4, 2004. http://www.eesti.ca/helmo-raag-151-in-memoriam/article20316 (search conducted: July 18, 2015).

45. Various applications. See for example L. P. application in Lellepi fond 1981. Lellep, Jüri Papers, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

46. Letter from EstfUSA to possible donors 1978. Box 3, Folder 51. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

47. Letter from E. O. to Helmo Raag. December 12, 1961. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­­­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

48. Letter from A. P. to EstfUSA. December 28, 1968. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

49. In this context: pro-Soviet.

50. Letter from M. R. to Helmo Raag. November 30, 1960. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

        51. Letter from E. O. to Helmo Raag. March 3, 1962 and others. Box 4, Folder 58; letter from E. M. to Helmo and Tiina Raag. October 8, 1963. Box 4, Folder 52; letter from M. S. to EstfUSA. April 1, 1970. Box 4, Folder 53; letter from M. R. to Helmo Raag. November 30, 1960. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

52. Correspondence between scholarship holders and EstfUSA. Box 4, Folder 53. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

53. Letter from K. N. to Helmo Raag. January 21, 1963. Box 4, Folder 52. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

54. Letter from Helmo Raag to E. M. January 22, 1964. Box 4, Folder 52. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

55. Letter from M. R. to Helmo Raag. November 30, 1960. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

56. Letter from E. O. to Helmo Raag. March 3, 1962. Box 4, Folder 58. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetus­fond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

57. Letter from E. M. to Helmo Raag. January 13, 1964; letter from Helmo Raag to E. M. January 22, 1964. Box 4, Folder 52. Eesti Üliõpilaste Toetusfond (Estonian Students Fund in USA, Inc) Records, Estonian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

58. Walko, M. A. Rejecting the Second Generation Hypothesis: Maintaining Estonian Ethnicity in Lakewood, New Jersey. AMS Press, New York, 1989


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