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The Hildegard and Gustav Must Graduate Fellowship in Estonian American Studies

In spring 2003 the directors of the Estonian Archives in the U.S., Inc., located in Lakewood, NJ, voted to transfer the institution's vast archival holdings to the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, for preservation and scholarly access.  In addition, the organization contributed $150,000 to establish this fellowship in Estonian American Studies at the IHRC.  The great majority of materials that became the Estonian Archives of the U.S., Inc., were donated by immigrants who had been in the displaced persons camps in Germany, 1945-1950.  After a formal appeal for additional material about the DP period was made in 1965, a substantial collection was archived, initially housed for safe keeping in numerous Estonian American homes.  In 1969 the Estonian National Council held a special session that began the process of creating a central archive, and in 1972 a small building to house the collections was erected on the property of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, NJ.  Special appeals brought in funds and countless volunteers to prepare the building and install the collections. Later donations enabled doubling of the space to accommodate growth of the collection. This impressive community and volunteer support has continued to the present.

Due to the unique value of this documentation, used by researchers from around the world, its care and development require the ongoing commitment of knowledgeable staff.  Earnings from the "Hildegard and Gustav Must" Graduate Fellowship fund are being matched dollar-for-dollar by funding from the University's "21st Century Fellowship" program.  These earnings will annually support the efforts of a graduate student to participate in the care and development of the IHRC's Estonian American collection.  The fellowship, to be awarded to a graduate student enrolled at the University of Minnesota, will be regularly announced on a national level and will gain identity as a prominent educational award for emerging scholars.  As such, it becomes a permanent investment in stimulating and nurturing new research talent in the area of Estonian American studies.

Your Help Is Needed

The Must Fellowship is a giant first step in the development of an Estonian American Studies Fund at the IHRC.  Contributions to the overarching fund will enable the IHRC to raise public consciousness of Estonian American history, foster wider understanding of the contributions of Estonian immigrants to American life, and make a significant investment in future scholars of the Estonian experience in the United States.  For more information about how to contribute to the Estonian American Studies Fund, see

Photo: Hildegard Must Photo: Gustav Must

About Gustav and Hildegard Must

Gustav Must was born in Esna, J√§rvamaa, Estonia, on Feb. 2, 1908.  His early professional career was devoted to teaching and Estonian dialect research.  Hildegard Reismann-Raun was born in Tallinn, Estonia, on Oct. 3, 1913.  She also concentrated on linguistic subjects.  Their academic careers and research were interrupted by the Second World War.  They escaped from deportation to the Soviet Gulag in 1944, and from 1944 to 1949 they lived as refugees in Germany.  Along with other displaced persons, they continued their studies and became professors at the Baltic University in Hamburg-Pinneberg, Germany.  Both received a Ph.D. degree prior to coming to the United States in 1949 under the auspices of the International Refugee Organization.  From 1962, starting as associate professors, both Hildegard and Gustav taught at Valparaiso University in Indiana.  In 1970 Gustav was named professor of German and Germanic philology in the Department of Linguistics, where he remained until 1978, when he retired as professor emeritus.  Gustav published more than sixty articles in scholarly journals in the United States and Europe, on phonology, etymology, and the morphology of Germanic, Indo-European, and West Finnic languages. Hildegard devoted herself to research from 1970 on, producing a large volume of articles on Estonian language and proper names published in US and foreign scholarly journals.  Both were distinguished Estonian American linguistics scholars and early supporters and benefactors of the Estonian Archives.