But wait, what about Q? Well, the Latvian alphabet doesn’t have a Q, so R is the next letter of the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge! This is only the first letter I’m skipping, and being as I’ve done a lot of extra ones for the extra letters in the Latvian alphabet, I think we’re even – more than even, actually, since there are 33 letters in the Latvian alphabet, and only 26 in the English one.
But anyways… R is for Raduraksti!
At its most basic, “raduraksti” (literally, “radi” [relatives] + “raksti” [writing]) simply means “lineage” or “genealogy”. But when people in the Latvian genealogical community talk about Raduraksti, they are referring to the Latvian State Historical Archives’ “Raduraksti” project – which is the best thing to ever happen to people of Latvian descent trying to trace their genealogy!
The purpose of the Raduraksti project is the digitization of Latvian genealogical records. Now, this is only digitization – not transcription or indexing. But it does mean that people all over the world can begin to trace their Latvian heritage from the comfort of their own home.
Included in the Raduraksti project, at the time of writing, are three sections – 1) religious records of births, marriages and deaths; 2) revision lists; and 3) the 1897 All-Russia Census. Whether this collection is going to be expanded in the future, I don’t know. The Estonian digitization project Saaga has a much wider collection available online, so maybe one day Raduraksti will get there as well.
It might seem intimidating, to have to look through page after page of old records written predominantly in Russian or German, but unlike before, where you had to do this in the archives, now you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Through practice and dedication you will learn how to decipher the key elements of the records – I also have a number of blog posts to help you with that (click on the tags “records” or “tips” in the sidebar). So don’t be afraid!
Now, work to index the records is taking place by a committed group of volunteers. Their efforts can be found here. However, the website is only in Latvian (I tried putting it through Google Translate, to see how it would work in English, but the page does not function correctly so you can’t get to the indexes). I have been in talks with the website owner to make an English translation, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. But if you want to use the Latvian version, you will need to register, and then follow these menu links: “RADURAKSTI” ->”BaznÄ«cu gramatas” -> “KLM saraksti”. Then choose the parish you would like to look at. At the time of writing, there are 6 Catholic parishes, 57 Lutheran parishes and 6 Orthodox parishes indexed. So you may get lucky and find that the one you need is indexed! Though be aware that for the vast majority of these parishes, only birth records are available so far. I don’t know if they plan to index the revision lists or the 1897 census, but I think the religious BMD records are the priority right now.
Now, Raduraksti will not tell you everything you need to know about your Latvian ancestors – there will still be some information that can only be found on-site in the archives. But the BMD records, as well as the revision lists, are the best tools to use to create the basic outline of your family tree.
So get searching! What kind of useful information have you found using Raduraksti recently?