Liivimaa Üldkasulik ja Ökonoomiline Sotsieteet arhivaari pilguga
Livonian Public Welfare and Economic Society
through the Eyes of an Archivist
An extensive amount of materials is kept in the Estonian Historical Archives on the activities of the Livonian Public Welfare and Economic Society, its branches and affiliates; the materials have been widely used in the research on the Society. The fields of activity of the Society that have been more thoroughly researched are animal husbandry and
breeding, forestry, land improvement, 19th century peasant reforms, and cartography. A number of articles and research papers on the various fields of activity of the Society have been published. At the same time, collections still retain quite a few archival documents that have not thus far engaged the attention of any researcher.
Working through the Society’s correspondence systematically
and thoroughly would probably take years but even a brief
acquaintance with the fund documents proves to show that the material is versatile. The Society was a place where people turned to with a range of problems to receive advice, aid, and support.
Thus, the surviving correspondence offers illimitable opportunities for finding material pertaining to individual questions from various walks of life, be they attempts of fertilizing fields with guano, new roofing materials, insuring animals or people, organising agricultural education, constructing waterways, and a thousand subjects more.
There are subjects that are constantly present, e.g., construction of waterways or insurance issues. Some questions are discussed only once or twice, e.g. using wild chestnuts for feed, eye problems of the peasants, etc.
The Society’s files from 1914–1918 are also interesting and
would certainly offer more detailed information on, for example, the everyday life in Tartu during WW I.
The plans and drawings in the files possess an individual value. In addition to the numerous plans on constructing waterways and channels, one is able to view the plan of the Tartu postal station and its location, and different example plans of domestic buildings.
The archive of the Society is rich in publications. Since the Society had connections with many organisations, societies and institutions, the subjects of the publications are from very different walks of life. During the writing of this article, data on 400 publications was entered into the archive’s library catalogue URRAM while reviewing archive documents. Seven of the publications had no entry in the Estonian national bibliography.