Jakob Hurt

Poems Jakob Hurt


About Jakob Hurt

Jakob Hurt (22./10. VII 1839 – 13. I 1907 / 31. XII 1906) was an Estonian folklore scholar, linguist, prelate and social activist – one of the leading figures of the national awakening period. He established the collecting of Estonian folklore and its scientific publication.

He was born in Võru county, the son of a schoolmaster. He attended Himmaste village school and Põlva parish school, Tartu county school and the state gymnasium, and from 1859 to 1864 studied theology at the University of Tartu, graduating in 1865 as a Candidate in Theology. In 1886 he gained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Helsinki. In 1865-1866 he was a tutor at the home of A.T. von Middendorff at Hellenurme, from 1868 to 1872 he was a gymnasium teacher in Kuressaare and Tartu, from 1872 a pastor in Otepää, from where he moved in 1880 St. Petersburg to become pastor of the Estonian Jaani (St. John) congregation. He retired in 1901 and died in St. Petersburg, and was buried at the Raadi cemetery in Tartu.

Hurt’s participation in public life began in his university years with the Learned Estonian Society, where he edited almanacs, gave lectures and collected folklore. He was also active in the Vanemuine Society and gave a seminal speech at the first song festival in 1869. He was on the head committee of the Estonian Alexander School from 1870 to 1883, and from 1872 to 1881 chairman of the Society of Estonian Men of Letters representing the moderate stream of the national movement, coming into strong conflict with the more radical Carl Robert Jakobson and his faction. He campaigned for Estonian-language schools and the promotion of popular education. In the early eighteen-eighties he withdrew from public life and devoted himself to science.

In his younger days Hurt wrote a few almanac stories and poems, and also translated and adapted from German. As a philologist Hurt promoted a new orthography with his brochure Lühikene õpetus kirjutamisest parandatud viisi (‘A Brief Lesson in Writing in an Improved Way’, 1864), and published the studies Die estnischen Nomina auf –ne purum (doctoral dissertation, 1886, Helsinki) and Eesti sõnadest –line lõpuga (‘Estonian Words Ending in –line’, 1903) and articles about place-names ending in –ste, and about the particles ehk and või. He assisted Ferdinand Johann Wiedemann in compiling the Estonian-German dictionary and edited the second printing of it (1893). He introduced the history of the Estonian people with his Pildid isamaa sündinud asjust (‘Pictures of events from the Fatherland’, 1879), which made much use of folklore.

Hurt’s chief merit is the collecting of Estonian folklore and the commencement of its critical publication. He himself began collecting it as a schoolboy at Põlva and published local legends in a brochure Beiträge zur Kenntniss estnischer Sagen und Ueberlieferungen (1863). He developed systematic folklore collecting at the Society of Estonian Men of Letters, where for the first time he engaged a large network of collaborators and voluntary correspondents, which was the initiation of the broader work of collection. In 1888 Hurt commenced a large new campaign of collecting, and in the press he announced a “Paar palvid Eesti ärksamaile poegadele ja tütardele” (‘”A few requests to the cleverer sons and daughters of Estonia”‘), in which he outlined the genres of folklore and the technique of collecting. He also propagated folklore collecting in almanacs and private letters. Through his collaborators (up to 1,400 individuals in Estonia and Estonian-inhabited parts of Russia) and the students who were dedicated to collecting work, Hurt assembled (together with the materials of Society of Estonian Men of Letters) 261,589 individual pieces of folklore (of all genres), altogether 122,317 pages, in addition to dialect material. Between 1888 and 1906 he published 155 extensive reports of folklore collecting in the press. The collection is stored in the department of Folklore of the Estonian Literary Museum.

Setukeste laulud (‘Songs of the Setu People’, I-III, 1904-1907, Helsinki; songs of the Setu region, Vastseliina and Räpina) go under the general title Monumenta Estoniae antiquae. Hurt’s publications of folk-songs are systematized according to parish and type; the topographical-typological principle is also followed by later publications of Estonian folk-songs. Also worth mentioning is a presentation given by Hurt in 1896 at the tenth all-Russian archaeological congress in Riga about collecting Estonian folklore, as well as a work on Estonian folk religion, Eesti astronoomia (‘Estonian Astronomy’, 1899).

Hurt’s work in collecting folklore earned him international attention for its extent and methodology even in his lifetime. Since 1992 Jakob Hurt’s National Culture Award has been given. There are monuments to Jakob Hurt in Põlva and Tartu, and a bas-relief in Otepää church. Streets have been named after him in several Estonian towns and his image was on the Estonian 10-kroon banknote from 1992 to 2010.

A. N. (Translated by C. M.)

Selected bibliography

Beiträge zur Kenntniss estnischer Sagen und Ueberlieferungen. (Aus dem Kirchspiel Pölwe). Dorpat: 1863, 30 lk. 
Lühike õpetus õigest kirjutamisest parandatud viisi. Tartu: Õpetatud Eesti Selts, 1864, 16 lk. 
Eesti Aleksandri-kool: Üks tähtis kuulutus ja palwe kõigile Eestirahwale. Tartu:, 1871, 24 lk.
Vana kannel 1.-2. kogu: täieline kogu vanu Eesti rahvalauluzid. Tartu: C. Mattiesen, 1875-1886, 384 lk. 
Awalik kiri H. v. Samsoni herrale Aleksandri kooli pärast. Tartu: 1877, 24 lk.
Pildid isamaa sündinud asjust. Tartu: 1879, 170 lk. 
Die estnischen Nomina auf –ne purum. Helsingfors: 1886, 191 lk.
Eesti astronomia. Kõne Peterburi Eesti Jaanikoguduse Noortemeeste Seltsis 10. Jaan. 1899. Jurjev: Postimehe rmtkpl, 1899, 62 lk.
Über die Pleskauer Esten oder die sogenannten Setukesen. Helsingfors: 1904, 21 lk.
Elu walgus. Jutluseraamat kõikide pühapäewade ja suurte pühade tarbeks wabalt wäljawalitud kirjatunnistuste üle. Wälja annud Dr. Jakob Hurt. Tallinn: A. Busch, 1907, 604 lk.
Jakob Hurda kõned ja avalikud kirjad. Toimetanud Hans Kruus. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts, 1939, 246 lk.
Kõned ja kirjad. Koostanud Mart Laar. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1989, 94 lk.
Mida rahvamälestustest pidada. Artiklite kogumik.  Koostanud Ülo Tedre. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 171 lk. 
Inemisest. Tallinn: Tartumaa Muuseum, 1990, 55 lk. [Faksiimiletrükk “Tarto Kalendrist”.]
Looja ees. Koostanud Hando Runnel. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005, 463 lk. [Kõned ja kirjad. Sari ‘Eesti mõttelugu’.]
Keelemees. Koostanud Jaak Peebo, Hando Runnel. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2012, 375 lk. [Sari ‘Eesti mõttelugu’.]

Monumenta Estoniae antiquae
Setukeste laulud. Pihkva-Eestlaste vanad rahvalaulud, ühes Räpinä ja Vastseliina lauludega. Ezimene köide. Helsingi: Soome Kirjanduse Selts, 1904, XXXIX+736+88 lk.
Setukeste laulud. Pihkva-Eestlaste vanad rahvalaulud, ühes Räpinä ja Vastseliina lauludega. Tõine köide. Helsingi: Soome Kirjanduse Selts, 1905, XXVII+710+168 lk.
Setukeste laulud. Pihkva-Eestlaste vanad rahvalaulud, ühes Räpinä ja Vastseliina lauludega. Kolmas köide. Helsingi: Soome Kirjanduse Selts, 1907, IX+474+137 lk.

About Jakob Hurt
Jakob Hurt 150. Toimetuskolleegium: Heno Sarv jt. Eesti Rahva Muuseumi aastaraamat, nr 38. Tallinn: Valgus, 1990, 244 lk. 
Rudolf Põldmäe, Noor Jakob Hurt. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 140 lk.
Jakob Hurt 1839-1907. Koostanud Mart Laar, Rein Saukas, Ülo Tedre. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 350 lk.
Mart Laar, Raamat Jakob Hurdast. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1995, 233 lk. [Monograafia.]