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Dates Before 1834

If you’ve spent any time in the Latvian church records on Raduraksti, you’ll have probably noticed that in most cases, the earliest records of births, marriages and deaths you’ll find is 1834 or 1835 (for ethnic Latvians, records for Germans sometimes go further back). On the rare occasion you’ll find earlier records, but use of [...]

Surname Saturday – Relationship Between Surnames and Farm Names

Like in many other countries, rural properties in Latvia are known by names, rather than by street numbers as is typical in an urban setting. However, unlike most European countries, these rural Latvians really only acquired surnames in the early 19th century. What this means is that large numbers of Latvians have surnames that came [...]

Surname Saturday – Estates are Live on the Latvian Surname Project!

What do we have for today’s Surname Saturday? A new content category on the Latvian Surname Project!

If you’ve stopped by the Latvian Surname Project recently, you may have happened across some of the work I’ve been doing adding surnames from some of the earliest estate revision lists. I’m adding these for two reasons: One, because [...]

Where Could They Be From?

What do you do if you have little to go on when it comes to researching your Latvian ancestors? What if they emigrated in the late 1800s or early 1900s, and the only information that passenger lists or naturalization records provide is that they came from “Latvia” or “Russia”? What do you do then?

First, do [...]

Z is for Zemnieki

What? No W, X or Y? Nope! Latvian does not have these letters, so we now have two left – Z and Ž. Now we have Z for the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

“Zemnieki” is the Latvian word for “peasants”, or, in the modern era, “farmers”. I don’t have my etymology dictionary handy, but [...]

P is for Parish

Let’s continue the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

The important word of the day is “parish” – and in Latvian, it has a name with a P too – “pagasts”. Now, this refers to civil parishes, rather than religious ones. A religious parish or congregation in Latvian would be called a “draudze”.

There are hundreds of [...]

M is for Manorial Estate

This is a good one for the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge, something I mention quite a lot but I’m not sure if I’ve ever really defined… Manorial Estate!

There were two types of “estates” in pre-independence Latvian society – manorial estates and social estates. Discussion on the latter to come later when we get [...]

H is for Hinzugekommen/Abgegangen

Heading into German words now for the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge! Though I’m cheating – there are two words here instead of one, because they are inseparable when it comes to Latvian (and Estonian) genealogical resources. Since Estonian territory had the same sort of administrative structure as Latvian territory in this time period, [...]

E is for Emancipation

On to letter E of the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

E is for Emancipation

To many Westerners, particularly Americans, “Emancipation” means the freeing of slaves from slavery, more specifically black slaves in the American South, during the Civil War. But this is not the Emancipation we are discussing today, though this Emancipation takes place around [...]

Surname Saturday - Surnames of Jumurda Estate, 1826

I’m starting a new Surname Saturday feature – each week, I will profile the surnames of a different manorial estate from the 1826 revision list. Why 1826? That is the year that surnames first appeared in the revision lists – for the Livland guberniya, at any rate, in some cases in the Kurland guberniya they [...]