At the end of June after a two years long journey, full of surprises and challenges, the project “Cross Border E-archives” was celebrating its successful conclusion with a two day program of special events, which took place in Riga, European Capital of Culture 2014, and in the beautiful resort town Jurmala (Latvia).

Closing conference “Digital Archives and Historical Cross Border Heritage” was held in Riga on June 19 and gathered a wide range of stakeholders from Estonia, Latvia, Russia and Lithuania for a dialog about topics related to preservation of the cultural cross border heritage and digitalization in memory institutions. Project results and benefits created by the project to a wide range of inhabitants in cross border territories of Estonia, Latvia and Russia were discussed during the conference, as well as new opportunities introduced to anyone who is interested in research of cultural and historical ties and importance of heritage in today’s cultural context.

At the opening session of the conference warm welcoming remarks were given to all conference participants and guests by H.E. Mati Vaarmann, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Rihards Kols, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, and Ms. Unda Ozoliņa, Head of the Joint Technical Secretariat of Estonia-Latvia-Russia Cross Border Cooperation Programme.

After that, the audience was introduced to activities and results produced by the project and to the most visible outcome of the project – a newly launched online platform “Cross Border E-Archive”, which includes archival materials selected and digitalized in the course of the project. The platform in four languages – English, Estonian, Latvian and Russian – is available under the web address www.earchive-estlatrus.eu.

The outcome of the Project is 11 000 digitalized documents (texts, photographs and maps) and over 500 000 images made available to the residents of the three countries and all other interested parties. The digitalized documents belong to the 19th century and early 20th century, and they refer to the whole of the territory of Estonia, the city of Riga and the Latvian regions of Vidzeme and Latgale, as well as the city of St. Petersburg and region of Leningrad in Russia.

The digitalized archive documents are offered to the users of the newly launched portal within four thematic collections: 1) student files, i. e. the personal files of  students and university professors of the institutions of higher learning in the regions; 2) maps; 3) church records; 4) miscellaneous documents including matriculation records of the Tartu (Dorpat) University and the Riga Polytechnic Institute, various personal documents of the residents, and confessional records of some parishes. The descriptions of the documents and the portal interface are available in four above mentioned languages.

During the second session of the conference, representatives from a number of culture and memory institutions – archives, libraries and museums – presented a selection of technological solutions for digitalizing the cultural heritage.

On June 20, the second day of the closing event of the project “Cross Border E-archive”, all participants and guests of the conference enjoyed a special cultural program – guided tours in the new building of the National Library of Latvia or “Castle of Light” and in the main building of the Latvian Radio and its archives. Besides, project partners had a chance to visit the Latvian State Historical archives.

Two day event ended with a farewell celebration at the Jurmala Open-Air Museum according to Latvian ancient traditions in a magical atmosphere of the upcoming Summer Solstice or Jāņi.

The project “Cross Border E-archive” is now completed. This exceptional experience allowed us not only creating a unique access to the shared history and culture to people of the cross border area in their native languages and English, but also developed a much stronger cooperation between all involved stakeholders and opened the door for cooperation possibilities in the future.

Information is prepared by
Ilma Elsberga, public relation specialist of the Project “Cross Border E-archive”
Phone: 7844902; e-mail: ilma.elsberga@kis.gov.lv