Juhan Aare collection
The collection includes various pieces of documentation about the ‘Phosphorite War’ that took place in Estonia in 1987, and material about the Estonian television programme ‘Panda’ in the second half of the 1980s. The collector of the material is Juhan Aare, the journalist and politician who unleashed the Phosphorite War. The most valuable part of the collection is made up of the letters written by people in Estonia and sent to Juhan Aare or to Estonian Television. These letters refer to the environmental situation and the national question in Estonia.
12011 Tallinn Pirita tee 66 , Estonia
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Name of collection
- Collection of Juhan Aare
Provenance and cultural activities
The collector of the material is Juhan Aare, a former television host, journalist and politician. As host of the television programme ‘Panda’, which addressed environmental issues, he initiated a letter campaign against the planned phosphorite mines in northern Estonia in February 1987. The campaign was successful, and besides sending letters, people started mass protest actions, called the Phosphorite War, which are now considered to be the starting point of revolutionary events in Estonia in the late 1980s.
During the late 1980s, Juhan Aare realised that several documents at Estonian Television, including those relating to the television programme ‘Panda’, would be considered unimportant and would be destroyed. Since he had access to these documents, he started to collect them, and founded his own private collection. The fact that the scripts of television programmes and letters from ordinary people were not usually preserved makes them a unique collection about complex environmental and national issues. In addition, Aare collected other material, including letters sent to him in person, or to the newspaper Noorte Hääl (The Voice of Youth), and press cuttings about the Phosphorite War. He continued to collect this material in the 1990s, and to write a book about the events in the 1980s. The book Fosforiidisõda 1971-1989 (The Phosphorite War 1971-1989) was published in 1999.
Until 2007, all these documents were in the possession of Juhan Aare, and were used only by him. By then, 20 years had passed since the Phosphorite War, and the Estonian History Museum put on the exhibition ‘EI FOSFORIIDILE! 20 aastat fosforiidisõjast’ (No to Phosphorite! 20 Years since the Phosphorite War). The curator of the exhibition was Olev Liivik, and the advisor was Juhan Aare. Aare decided to present his collection to the Estonian History Museum. Thus, the collection is now owned by the museum. However, it is still uncatalogued, and apart from Juhan Aare, only Olev Liivik has worked with it and used it in his research. No academic studies about the collection, or for which the collection is a source, have been published. However, Olev Liivik has written an article about the Phosphorite War, focusing particularly on the letter-writing campaign; a volume with the article is due to be published soon. He has also made several presentations based on the collection. In the future, when the collection is catalogued and described, it will probably be used more widely.
Description of content
Since the collection is not yet catalogued, it is not possible to describe the content in detail. However, it contains more than 200 letters from people in Estonia sent to Juhan Aare in person, to Estonian Television, or to the newspaper Noorte Hääl (The Voice of Youth), where Aare published some articles about phosphorite mining. The collection also includes some scenarios for the television programme ‘Panda’, and diverse material (including newspaper clippings mostly from the Estonian press) about the topic of the Phosphorite War, which emerged in the 1980s but was collected by Juhan Aare in the 1990s when he prepared his book Fosforiidisõda (The Phosphorite War, published in 1999). The letters and scenarios are unique, because this kind of material is not usually preserved. The letters also show that environmental issues were closely related to the national question in Estonia in the second half of the 1980s.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 100-499
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Liivik, Olev
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Tark, Triin
Aare, Juhan. 1999. Fosforiidisõda 1971-1989. Tallinn: Kirilille Kirjastus.
Liivik, Olev , interview by Tark, Triin, January 04, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection