Records after 1905

In my last post, a reader requested that I talk about records after 1905. So here we go!

There are lots of different types of records available for the post-1905 period – however, as of right now, none of them are available online. The main online genealogical resource for Latvian records – religious records on Raduraksti – ends at 1905. But later records are accessible through a variety of avenues, depending on the specific years you’re looking for. Unless mentioned otherwise, all documents are located in the Latvian State Historical Archives (LVVA).

Vital Records

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not begin until the 1920s. Records prior to this time are religious in nature, so it will be necessary to know the religion of your ancestor.

While Raduraksti only goes to 1905 for now, most available records from 1906 to 1909 have been transferred to the LVVA. A list is available on their website here (PDF, the list is organized first by religion, then by parish). However, some records from this time period may still reside with the Ministry of Justice’s Registry Office Archives. This is because of how some records were organized – the registry entries were made into books, so if it happens that earlier years (say 1908 and 1909) are in the same volume as later years (such as 1910 and 1911), the entire book will remain at the Registry Office Archives.

For vital records between 1910 and 1921 (and earlier years as relevant based on the criteria above), it is necessary to contact the Ministry of Justice’s Registry Office Archives (page in Latvian only). This can be done by phone, email or in person. I went in person. You will need to provide as much information as you can, including the religion of the person you are inquiring about. It will then take at least two weeks for them to issue a transcript to you. However, just like with all records, there are no guarantees that the information you are looking for will be found, even if you know for certain what happened where – for example, they could not find my maternal grandmother’s birth record, even though I know for certain when and where she was born and baptized, as these were events witnessed by her older sister, my great-aunt, who confirms the information provided in later official documents. While this record does not seem to exist, numerous others that I asked for do, and I was able to solve the longstanding mystery of where my maternal grandfather was born – in some documents, he says he was born in Lāde parish, in others that he was born in Rīga. His birth record confirms that he was born in Lāde parish.

For vital records after 1921, it is necessary to contact the regional registry office for the area that a person lived. Note that this may not be the local registry office of today – many smaller towns now have their own registry offices, but older records will still be found in the regional office. If you need help figuring out which regional registry office you may need to contact, let me know and I can try to help you.

Census Records

Latvia carried out a national census in 1935 (fonds 1308 abstract 12), and again in 1941 (fonds 1308 abstract 15), a few months after the beginning of the Nazi occupation. The records are arranged by parish or town, and are usually alphabetical based on street or farm name – though beware of only going by street/farm name, since sometimes they will be out of order. As well, sometimes a farm may have been part of a smaller hamlet falling under the purview of a parish and thus grouped by hamlet name first, then farm name. And, of course, just like with censuses in other parts of the world, people may have been somewhere else either for the night of the census or for a longer period of time. The 1935 census is on loose sheets of paper, the 1941 census is bound in book form. The 1941 census has additional fields that the 1935 census does not that are of particular interest to genealogists – namely, full birthdates (the 1935 census only asks for birth year) and places of birth. Of course, this information may not always be accurate, but it does provide a starting point to work from.

School Records

I talked about school records in this post. As a summary: school records can provide more than just your ancestors’ grades – they can also potentially lead to previous school attendance information, birth certificates, and more.

Passports and Immigration/Emigration

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