As you may recall, in February I started my first beginners’ course in Latvian genealogy. It is still running, and it has been an intense experience for all involved! But everyone (including me!) is learning a lot, so I think that further sessions of the course can help more people, so the next sessions will be starting on May 11!

Now, based on feedback that I’ve received on this course, I’ve made some changes. Read on to find out more!

Beginners’ Course in Latvian Genealogy – Intensive and Non-Intensive versions

This is essentially the same 12-week course that started in February (read there for more details), but with two main differences. Firstly, there will be intensive and non-intensive versions. The intensive version will be more or less the same as the current course – and let me tell you, it will be intense! Current participants report sometimes spending six to eight hours a week on the course, but they are learning a lot. The non-intensive version will follow the same curriculum, and assignments for the first four weeks will be the same, but after that, there will not be an obligation to translate full records – rather, participants will use the techniques learned in the first four weeks to identify records of interest and then submit them to me, and I will provide the translations. So this version of the course is suitable for people who want to participate in the search process for their ancestors, and have an idea as to what they’re looking at, but don’t have the time to commit to learning all of the details of each record.

The other difference is that there will be an open-ended number of assignments for each week – do as many as you can for the time you have, for either version of the course. If you want to do all of them, then great, if you can’t, that’s okay too. It is up to you how much time you want to take.

No prior knowledge of Latvian, German or Russian required – everything you’ll need to know to locate villages/towns, find your ancestors’ records on Raduraksti and then understand what the records say will be included in the course. The course will be conducted in English.

Both course variants will follow the same schedule as the current course:

  • Week 1 – Historical Context and Migration Patterns
  • Week 2 – Spelling and Orthography
  • Week 3 – Location, Location, Location
  • Week 4 – Names
  • Week 5 – Relationships and Occupations
  • Week 6 – Baptism/Birth Records
  • Week 7 – Marriage Records
  • Week 8 – Death Records
  • Week 9 – Other Religious Records
  • Week 10 – Revision Lists
  • Week 11 – 1897 Census
  • Week 12 – Wrap-Up and Next Steps

All assignments you complete will be focused to your own particular regional needs (that is, where your ancestors lived), as well as your ancestors’ religious confessions. While this first session focused on Lutheran records, this next session will have Catholic, Jewish and/or Orthodox options if requested.

NEW! – Course on Historical Context of Latvian Genealogy Records

Perhaps before you dive into the minutiae of Latvian genealogy records, you want to learn more about the history and context of said records. This course will take you through an overview of the past four hundred years of Latvian history, and the records generated throughout different historical eras, what the records were used for and what genealogical information they can provide to us today. This course does NOT go into the particulars of each type of record, or how to read them, but provides an overview of the information these records can provide. Some of the records discussed are available online, others are only available on-site at the archives.

This is an eight-week course and will be conducted in English. No knowledge of other languages is required. Assignments will be methodological in scope – analyzing different provided scenarios and making suggestions or recommendations, and so on.

The course outline:

  • Week 1 – Early Records and History to 1800 (Different empires, guilds, courts)
  • Week 2 – Serfdom and Liberation (Surnames, church records, revision lists)
  • Week 3 – Urban and Rural Shifts (Land records, housing registers, parish registers, 1897 Census)
  • Week 4 – Education and Social Betterment (Social class, school records, tax lists)
  • Week 5 – 1905 Revolution and Its Causes (Russian Empire military records, secret police records, emigration)
  • Week 6 – First World War (Refugee records, Latvian military records)
  • Week 7 – Interwar era (Census records, passports, etc.)
  • Week 8 – Second World War (Occupying regimes – Soviets and Nazis, Holocaust, military records, refugee newspapers, International Tracing Service)

Requirements for Course Participation

These technical requirements are for all courses. You will need to have an Internet connection as well as a Google account, since we will use many Google features, including Gmail, Hangouts (text only) and Drive. A Google account is free. You will also need an account on the Raduraksti website, also free. A computer (desktop or laptop) would be best, but as long as you can see, read and navigate the embedded pages in the Raduraksti website, then a tablet would also suffice (be aware that not all tablets have this capability). The intensive course will typically take four to eight hours per week, the non-intensive course should take you about one to three hours per week. The historical context course should take one to two hours per week.

Prices (in US Dollars)

Beginners’ Course in Latvian Genealogy – Intensive: $159
Beginners’ Course in Latvian Genealogy – Non-Intensive: $129

This includes:

  • 12 modules, one each week, which will consist of readings, exercises and applying lessons learned to your own family history (see outline above), new modules will be released on Monday and you have until the following Monday to complete the exercises
  • corrected exercises returned to you within 48 hours
  • access to a group chatroom where you can discuss the course material with other students and ask the instructor questions
  • *Special offer! If your family knowledge isn’t as extensive as it needs to be to participate in the course yet (that is, you do not have knowledge of ancestors born in Latvia prior to 1909), then upon registering for the course, you can receive four hours of on-site research for the price of three – $75 instead of $100 – to be conducted by me before you start the course so you will be able to participate effectively.

This course (intensive and non-intensive combined) is limited to 15 participants.

Course on Historical Context of Latvian Genealogy Records – $89

This includes:

  • 8 modules, one each week, which will consist of readings and exercises to apply your understanding of the history and record types. New modules will be released on Monday and you will have until the following Monday to complete the exercises.
  • comments provided on your exercises within 48 hours
  • access to a group chatroom where you can discuss the course material with other students and ask the instructor questions

This course is limited to 20 participants.

To Sign Up!

Please send an email to (note: this is an image to prevent spam, you will need to type it into your email program) expressing your interest, and tell me which course you are interested in. For the intensive and non-intensive courses, please outline for me your Latvian family history as far as you know it, including when approximately they emigrated from Latvia, names and dates, ethnicity, religion, and so on, so that I can make sure that the course is appropriate for you. For the historical context course, just outline your interest in the topic. Once I’ve given you the go-ahead, you can send payment via Paypal, and you’ll be welcomed into the course!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

New Genealogy Courses Starting in May!
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One thought on “New Genealogy Courses Starting in May!

  • May 3, 2015 at 12:42 am
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    I am VERY excited to read about your courses and would like to register in both (Intensive Genealogy and Historical Context). I am a substitute teacher and ,as such, feel I could commit to serious participation.
    I am Canadian born (1951) but my parents emigrated via DP camp in Germany, in 1947.
    My mother is still alive (92) and has been my major source of information, although, with her age it is more difficult for her as I ask more and more. I have been interested in my family story for the past 40 years but like so many people, my “follow through” has been spotty over the years of raising a family. Now, I am serious at compiling the “Family Saga”
    in some form of print. Before doing that, I want to go further back and to fill in spaces.
    My mother’s maiden name is Grivnieks (changed from Grinbergs) and I have information going back three generations. The earliest name and date I have is Bētilis Kajak (1815 -1859).
    My father’s name is Poruks (not THE Poruks). He passed away some years ago and unfortunately, was not much for recording dates. I still have Poruks family in Latvia but I have had difficulty getting missing names and dates. I have only been able to go back two generations . The earliest name I have is Karlis Poruks (1876-1973).
    I traveled to Latvia 6 years ago with my 3 sons but all of the time was spent on “family fun”! My knowledge of the language, which I had hoped would some how come back to me, didn’t. I haven’t spoken Latvian since I was a child and although I am getting better at reading it, a dictionary is always at my elbow.
    I will be returning to Riga at the end of June for a few days before continuing on for a family wedding in Rome. I have GREAT hopes of making exciting discoveries at the Archives but truly, before I go, your courses would be the IDEAL preparation in order for me to make the absolute most of my time there.
    I applied for my Latvian Citizenship this last year and now am the proud bearer of a Latvian Passport. I am very excited to be able to able to use it.
    I am really hoping you still have room in your courses. I am really excited!
    Yours sincerely
    Maija Macleod

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