Accepted Paper:

Collecting policies and (imagined) voices of contributors  


Ave Goršič (Estonian Literary Museum)
Astrid Tuisk (Estonian Literary Museum)

Paper short abstract:

In our presentation, we look firstly the policy of collecting folklore in the Estonian Folklore Archives and secondly, a collection of children’s games from the 1930s. How do the guidelines create the content of the archive’s collections and if and how texts reflect children’s attitude and voice?

Paper long abstract:

Any given folklore archive is a home to its collections. Our presentation's background is the policy of folklore collecting on Estonian territory since the 19th century and within the Estonian Folklore Archives since 1927. Folklore collecting in Estonia is historically connected to creating and keeping national identity. After the WWII, the Soviet Estonian folkloristics adapted to Marxist reforms, but the main principles were still retrospective and folklore helped to oppose Soviet ideology.

We do not quite agree with criticism saying that text-centred collecting has been 'tearing folklore away from its original environment' and producing 'dead material', making folklore archive a home to texts that live their own life and do not represent their initial social and textual reality. Today of course, the sense of tradition is more wholesome, not simply an assemblage of orally reproduced or archived texts. We observe how the archive has created the vision and expectation of folklore and directed its collecting accordingly.

Our case study is the collection of children's games in the Estonian Folklore Archives in the 1930s. Considered a marginalised folklore in some measure, games that children play connect to their homes and identities. Nationalist myths and romanticised allusions influenced the collecting strategy. The guideline stressed home circle as the main collecting target, leading to the expectation of personal experience attached to the texts. Instead, impersonal attitude and orientation to past prevailed. The case study examines whose vision and voice the 1930s games reflect.

Panel Arch03
Dwelling in the cultural archives II: policies and archive practices