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Estonian philology became a research area of the Estonian Academy of Sciences in 1947, when the Institute of Language and Literature was established as a branch of the Academy. For several years, the Institute had a small staff (10-20 researchers) with truly grand aims and tasks.

The beginning had to suffer the ideological pressure of the time. Nevertheless the staff managed to keep and foster the objective set in 1947 – promotion of scientific research into Estonian and other Finno-Ugric languages, literature and folklore.
In 1993 the two departments of literature of the Institute and the Friedebert Tuglas House Museum were reorganised into the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, while departments of language and folklore were merged to form the Institute of the Estonian Language.
To-day the Institute employs over 70 staff. There are five departments: Linguistics and Language Technology, Dictionary, Finno-Ugric Languages and Dialects, Terminology, and Language Planning.

For more history see:

Jüri Viikberg (toim). Eesti Filoogia poolsajand Teaduste Akadeemias . Tallinn: Eesti Keele Instituut,1997.

Eeva. Ahven. Pilk paberpeeglisse. Keele ja Kirjanduse Instituudi kroonika 1947-1993. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2007.