New Free Email Course: Russian Handwriting!

I know for a lot of people who are researching their Latvian genealogy, even when they’ve mastered different name spellings, different names for places in various languages, terrible handwriting in German… the one thing that still terrifies them is the thought that they might have to look through and understand records written in Russian, especially handwritten Russian.

But Russian really isn’t that scary! I promise. It is a different alphabet, yes, but that doesn’t make it an insurmountable obstacle. Just a bit of learning, and you’ll get the hang of it!

So to help with that, I’m running another free email course – but this one is for next week only – you can sign up between now and 9am Eastern time on Monday, May 21. Even if you’re not sure if you have the time to commit to it next week, sign up so that you can receive the emails to your inbox, and then you can review them when you have the time – because after next week, the course will join my paid course offerings, and it will not be available for free again!

Just fill out the form below, and follow the directions, and you’re in!

(Sorry, form deleted! Time is up! Keep an eye out for new courses, and for this course to join my paid offerings.)

100 Years Ago – February Diary Entries

Since 2018 is Latvia’s centennial, I am bringing my postings of diary entries in line with the centennial, so that you can see this on-the-ground narrative of someone who was right there in Latvia as the events leading up to independence took place, and also what happened after that.

Since I’ve already posted most of the 1918 entries, I will provide monthly summaries with links to the earlier posts. So here is February 1918!

  • February 6th, 1918 – Alise’s husband Georgs is arrested by the Bolsheviks.
  • February 7th, 1918 – Alise goes to visit her husband in prison, and he was shipped away in the night.
  • February 8th, 1918 – The Germans liberate Valmiera from the Bolsheviks, but make off with a lot of farm inventory.
  • February 10th, 1918 – Still there is no news about Georgs’ fate.
  • February 11th, 1918 – Alise goes to town to pray in church, and learns that had the Bolsheviks still been in Valmiera for a few more days, the rest of the family may have gotten sent away as well.
  • February 12th, 1918 – News comes that some Bolshevik prisoners had been freed by the Germans, but Alise does not know if Georgs is among them.
  • February 13th, 1918 – Still no news, and eldest daughter Trūtiņa wants her father home for her birthday.
  • February 14th, 1918 – Georgs is reunited with his family on Trūtiņa’s birthday.
  • February 15th, 1918 – Alise is overjoyed that peace appears to have come again.
  • February 22nd, 1918 – Alise celebrates the return of much of what was taken from them.
  • February 27th, 1918 – Alise and her family return to their home on Anna estate.

100 Years Ago – January Diary Entries

It has been some time since I posted new diary entries from my great-grandfather’s sister’s (Alise Tešs, maiden name Francis) diary, and I’ve done that so that I could bring them in line with the centennial of when they were written, inspired by the fact that this year – 2018 – is also Latvia’s centennial, so that you can see this on-the-ground narrative of someone who was right there in Latvia as the events leading up to independence took place, and also what happened after that.

Since I’ve already posted most of the 1918 entries, I will provide monthly summaries with links to the earlier posts. So here is January 1918!

Give Latvia the Gift of You

As many of you will know, today is November 18, which means it is Latvia’s Independence Day! This year, Latvia celebrates 99 years, which means that next year – 2018 – is the centennial!

Celebrating a centennial is a big production – there are so many things planned for Latvia next year, and I’ve been wondering what way I can contribute to the festivities. Now, I’ll be unveiling a number of different projects throughout the year, but now on Latvia’s 99th birthday, I want to help you do something for Latvia – helping you learn more about your Latvian heritage!

So from today, November 18th, until Cyber Monday – November 27th – I am offering some substantial discounts on two of my genealogy courses that will be starting in January. Both of these courses will offer you guidance and assistance on getting started with your Latvian genealogy research journey, so don’t miss out!

As an extra gift, if you register by November 27th, on December 12th I will also send you a special gift – my new Getting Started with Latvian Research Organization pack, which will include worksheets, wordlists and organizational tools that will help you get your research organized so that you know what you have, what you need to confirm with original sources, and what you still need to find! This pack will be going on sale on December 12th for $19, but if you book a course ahead of time you will get it for FREE! Having this pack before the holidays means that you’ll be able to question your family members over holiday meals to fill in the gaps you have, so that you’re ready to start your course in January!

So head over to my courses page – there you can sign up for my Latvian Genealogy Boot Camp for $44 (the number of days left until the celebrations of Latvia’s centennial begin, regular price $69), or my Beginner’s Course in Latvian Genealogy for $99 (Latvia’s birthday this year, regular price $129). Hope to see you there!

Free Email Course!

The most important tool in your arsenal in your Latvian genealogy journey is Raduraksti – but are you really using it to its full potential?

If you’re new to Latvian genealogy, the website can be daunting – but don’t worry, I’m here to help!

Starting on February 20, 2017 (for the first time, if you’re reading this after that date don’t worry – you can just sign up to start receiving it immediately!) I’ll be sending out a free five day email course to teach you how to use Raduraksti to its full potential! I’ll explain how to navigate the site, how to avoid common pitfalls, and lead you to where you need to go to get your search started.

So what are you waiting for? Just fill out the form below, and from February 20th onward I’ll be sending out the course, one email per day! Important: After you sign up, be sure to go to your email and CONFIRM! If you don’t confirm your subscription, you won’t receive the emails! (If it isn’t in your inbox, check your promotions/spam folders to make sure it hasn’t gone in there! If it has, be sure to mark my email address as “safe” so that it doesn’t happen again!)

Latvian Genealogy Boot Camp!

So it’s that time of year again – holidays, presents, and soon the New Year! Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions? I know one of mine is to get back to blogging more regularly, since I haven’t really had the time for it this year. But this year I will commit to getting more content out for you!

So what are your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you made one to get on track with your Latvian genealogy? Do you want a no-holds-barred intensive introduction to everything you need to know to get your research going? To read the records, and put all of the information together? Now’s your chance – it is time for Latvian Genealogy Boot Camp!

Just what you need to know to read the records – for historical context, why record types A or B or X exist, how people got farms and surnames and all that, go to my regular beginners’ courses. This is just to get you started into the records themselves.

What we will cover: Recognizing NAMES. Recognizing PLACES. Learning KEYWORDS. Understanding RECORD TYPES. And then put it all TOGETHER!

Five days. Five modules. If you’re ready to commit, and go go go for a week, then this is the course for you! All for the price of $49. First session starts on Monday January 16, 2017.

The course will take place online, and will have a live chat/Skype component, scheduled as suits you, for some one-on-one training.

Register for the course here by filling out the form and clicking the Paypal button below, and then I will get back to you for more details! If you don’t hear from me in two days, please confirm that you entered the right email address below – this is the email address you want course material sent to, not your Paypal login address, that Paypal will ask you for on the next page – and send me an email at the email address above so I know how to contact you best!

Enter email address to send to

Steps to Latvian Genealogy Success!

Mark your calendars – on October 2nd, I am launching my new subscription program, “Steps to Latvian Genealogy Success”!

Who is this program for?

This program is for people who want to do their own Latvian genealogical research, but are looking for a steady stream of information to help them with that process.

It is less intense than my genealogy courses, but still provides weekly content to help you conduct your genealogical research effectively.

What does this program provide?

Each Sunday, you will receive two different mailings straight to your inbox – the first will be the BMD Newsletter that I already provide as a subscription service for $5/month, wherein I translate one record each of birth, marriage and death records, to help you get familiar with record formats, handwriting and language.

The second will depend on the week:

Week 1: Recognizing Names in Old Records – A case study of a specific name, recognizing its appearance in different styles of handwriting, its spelling variations, possible forms translated into different languages, and where the name is most likely to appear.

Week 2: Analyzing Terminology – Going over a specific word, what it means in historical context, learning to recognize where and when it could appear in records, its translations in different languages.

Week 3: Case Study – A case study on solving a tricky family mystery, and how to get out of what might initially look like a dead end.

Week 4: Periodika or Maps – How to use the online periodical source Periodika effectively, including recognizing common OCR (optical character recognition) mistakes, or how to use old and modern maps to find where your ancestors lived.

Week 5 (if applicable): If a month has a fifth Sunday, then at the beginning of the month I will invite submissions for ideas on what to write about in this last week!

How will the information be provided?

It will be sent straight to the email address you signed up with! No need to register for any new websites, no new passwords to remember. Occasionally there may be a link to a subscribers-only page on my website, but the access code will be provided directly in the email and you don’t need to sign up anywhere.

How much does it cost?

The program is $9.99 per month. You can enroll by clicking this Paypal button here:

Email Address to Send To

To make bookkeeping simple, this is how it will work: When you register, you will start receiving content the following Sunday. If you register on a Sunday, you will start receiving content that day!

If you register NOW, you will get bonus introductory content this coming Sunday September 25th! So go sign up now! And then don’t forget to submit your suggestions for October’s Week 5!

Tombstone Tuesday – Zigītis Zaļlapa, 1926-1936

In this series, I am providing pictures of tombstones from Latvian cemeteries, all with death dates prior to 1945. I do not have any further information on the people mentioned.


Photo taken by me, August 2015. Click to enlarge.

Top Inscription: “Mūsu mīļais dēliņš” (Our dear son)

Names: Zigītis Zaļlapa, born April 30, 1926, died April 21, 1936.

Bottom Inscription: “Tiko uzausa saulains rīts, te izira sapņu kamolīts.” (A sunny morning just dawned, and here our dreams unraveled)

Location: Sarkandaugava Hill Cemetery, Rīga

Tombstone Tuesday – Mandelbergs Family

In this series, I am providing pictures of tombstones from Latvian cemeteries, all with death dates prior to 1945. I do not have any further information on the people mentioned.


Photo taken by me, August 2015. Click to enlarge.

Cross Inscription: “Jahn Mandelberg ģimenes kapi” (Jānis Mandelbergs’ Family Graves)

Top Inscription: “Še dus Dieva mierā” (Resting Here in God’s Peace)

Names: Jānis Mandelbergs, born January 14, 1840, died March 23, 1909; Ilze Mandelbergs nee Langenbergs, born October 3, 1840, died June 28, 1909.

Location: Sarkandaugava Hill Cemetery, Rīga

Giving the Gift of Family History

Are you considering giving the gift of family history this Christmas (or other winter holiday)?

If you are, don’t wait until the last minute! Especially if you want the sights of summer included!

If you head over to my Services page, you can see the special Starter/Gift Package I have on offer. This package is ideal as a holiday gift for a loved one, or as a starter package that can lead to more research later on.

For $299, you will receive 8 hours of research, a GEDCOM (genealogy standard computer file) with all of the family information, photocopies of documents found and a photoset of pictures from one of your ancestral locations – anywhere in Latvia! That’s right – I will go out to the village or parish of your ancestors, take photos of the church, main village centre and other important locations. If there’s a local cemetery, I can also take a peek in there for any family members. All of this is included – no extra fees involved!

If this is something that interests you, don’t delay! All the details and contact information are on my Services page. Summer is coming to an end soon, so if you want summertime photos, they will need to be done as quickly as possible!

Also important to note: I will be out of the country from late September to late October, so if you want your project on my fall research cycle, then write to me as soon as possible so that I can schedule it in.