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Why Does Our Estonian History Matter?

By Aino Lokk, member of the Bibliography Club, a group of volunteers working with VEMU collections

Having just read "Freedom, Land and Legacy" about Estonian settlers in Alberta at the turn of the century, I was reminded that with each passing generation it becomes more difficult to capture the history of our forefathers unless we actively work towards preserving their legacy (which the Alberta Estonians have done). Fortunately in Toronto, the Bibliography Club is just such a place.

The Bibliography Club has a very large selection of books that have been donated by elderly Estonians who are either downsizing, or by estates of those who have passed away. Topics range from history to politics to science to handicrafts, and everything else in between. Amongst the more serious tomes we work with, we also have lots of fun reviewing some of the more quirky publications. A recent publication that crossed my path was the Eesti Pollumeeste Keskselts (Estonian Farmers Central) publication 'Maanoored' (Country Kids loosely translated) from the late 30's (1937-1939). What amused me about this publication, is that in addition to the North American 4H type of activities depicted and described on the pages, there were also photos of groups of youth engaged in potato peeling and ditch digging competitions!  Could you imagine such a contest in 2016?  A publication like this speaks volumes about changing times and mores.   

I have grown to really appreciate the value of the work we are doing towards preserving Estonian history and culture by organizing and maintaining the holdings that have been entrusted to our care. I am also proud that my mother was one of the founding members of the Bibliography Club, and that now two of her daughters are also volunteers of that organization.

 

What have been/are your role(s) in preserving and keeping your history alive? Tell us your story on Twitter by connecting with us @BloorStCulture & @vemu_esc, or use the hashtag #BCCstories.