Maarja Merivoo-Parro, a graduate student at Tallinn University and a 2009 Research-in-Progress presenter at IHRC, has successfully defended her Master's Thesis, New Yorgi Eesti Haridusselts ja pagulased (The New York Estonian Educational Society and Refugees).
Merivoo-Parro summarizes her work, writing that "...The New York Estonian Educational Society and Refugees is about the role of Estonian Displaced Persons during one of the most significant and eventful periods in the history of the Estonian diaspora of New York."
[The work] gives a general overview of the Estonians in the territory of the modern United States of America from the seventeenth century until [the] present time. It ... presents an analysis of the similarities and differences between ... immigration waves. Attention is given to the legislative and political factors from the American side that had influence on Estonians' immigration.
[A portion also] focuses on a narrower subject matter - a case study of the New York City Estonian community that was gathered around the apolitical New York Estonian Educational Society. ... [The decade following WWII was a] time [for] a substantial influx of Estonian refugees who refused to return to their native country because they dreaded the communist regime [that] had been established there.
[The New York Estonian Educational Society and Refugees] makes an effort to provide a grass-root investigation of the diaspora experience of the Estonians who came after the Second World War.
Her thesis rests mainly on primary sources, including the following collections at the IHRC: Estonian American Citizens Association Records, Foundation for Estonian Arts and Letters Records, Baltimore Estonian Association Records, New York Estonian Educational Society Records, and New York Estonian Male Chorus Records.
While at the IHRC, Merivoo-Parro gave a "research in progress" report in which she discussed connections between Estonians in the USSR and the North-American diaspora, with song as a dynamic cultural practice in the process of Estonian independence