Moving towards a digital folklore archives

Kaisa Kulasalu
Mari Sarv

When Estonian Folklore Archives was founded in 1927, a system of indexes and files was set up to enable researchers find necessary information according to different parameters within the already copious manuscript collections. This information system functioned efficiently until the mid-1990s, when the updating of paper files was abandoned in the face of the impending digital era. Different working groups started to compile genre- and subject-focused databases. The accumulating material was being described in digital format; however, a digital overview of the archives as an integral whole was still lacking. The first efforts to create a digital archival information system were made in 2002, and as the digital collections grew in bulk, the need for a systematized file administration emerged. In cooperation with other departments of the Estonian Literary Museum, the digital repository Kivike (“The Virtual Cellar of the Literary Museum”, available at was established with the support of the Estonian Information System Authority (RIA). The file repository holds the archival master files and distribution copies of the original digital collections and digitized materials (manuscripts, photos, audio and video material) of the folklore archives. On the other hand, Kivike is an archival information system for administrating the collections and conducting searches in the corpus: the system includes folklore texts transcribed from manuscripts and recordings and data entries from the databases of archived material. Today, the majority of the materials submitted to the archives are in digital format.Kratt, the digital portal for collecting folklore, enables users to fill in online questionnaires and upload files, while archivists can easily archive the submitted materials directly to the Kivike repository.