This blog has been going for over three and a half years! Over the years, I’ve made a number of different posts, and I’ve decided to put this post together to highlight some key posts that are particularly useful for helping you find your Latvian ancestors. This is intended to help new visitors to this site find past posts I’ve made that they might have missed otherwise.
First off, you should look to the sidebar to visit my Latvian Genealogy Primers – they will give you a good background on the context of Latvian records, and then you’ll be ready to dive in. Also check out Myths about Latvian Research to dispel popular myths.
Where to find the records
- A is for Archives – a visit to the Latvian State Historical Archives is a must to put any meat on the bones of your family tree.
- I is for International Tracing Service – if your ancestors left Latvia in the aftermath of the Second World War, this is the place to start.
- Newspapers for Genealogy – the Latvian National Library has scanned thousands of issues of Latvian newspapers, many from the pre-war era. Their Optical Character Recognition even makes searches possible (though not completely foolproof, mistakes still happen).
- R is for Raduraksti – the main online resource for Latvian records.
- Where Could They Be From? – How to figure out where in Latvia your ancestors were from.
How to read the records
- Anatomy of a Birth Record – how to puzzle out a birth record from an old Lutheran church register.
- O is for Orthography – a guide on working through spelling variations of surnames.
- Paying Attention to Details – why you should try to read the entire record, not just the key details.
- Working with Revision Lists – how to make sense of the revision lists posted on Raduraksti and how they can be useful.
Specific types of records
- C is for Census – a variety of Latvian census records are available, though most are not online.
- Getting Out of RÄ«ga – if your ethnic Latvian ancestors list their place of origin as “RÄ«ga”, it likely wasn’t their home for more than a few generations. This post will give you an idea as to how to find their original place of origin.
- Records after 1905 – what types of records are there for 20th century research?
- Tracking World War One Refugees – Did your ancestors leave their homes during the First World War? If they lived in Kurland (modern day Kurzeme and Zemgale, the western and southern parts of Latvia), the answer is “almost certainly”. Others moved around as well, especially if they lived in RÄ«ga or along the Daugava river. Refugee documents can help you find what they did, where they went, and where in Latvia they were from.
- Tuesday’s Tip: Look Randomly – if you’re planning a visit to the archives in RÄ«ga, you might be surprised what you find in some document fonds (collections) – the title of the fonds might not give any indication of the treasures inside!
- Tuesday’s Tip: House Books – if your ancestors lived in RÄ«ga in the late 19th or early 20th century, house books can help you. Pre-First World War house books are now being digitized and becoming available on Raduraksti.
Is there a post you think should be on this list? Let me know!