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Mappy Monday – The Many Names of Freedom Street

We’re starting off the Mappy Monday series on Discovering Latvian Roots with the most famous and iconic of Latvian streets – Brīvības iela, in English – Freedom Street. This is also one of the streets that has undergone the most name changes, especially in the 20th century, so it makes a good starting point for […]

The Dreaded Corner House of Rīga

During the Soviet era, there were few buildings so feared and dreaded in Latvia as the “Corner House” – an otherwise nondescript building on the corner of Brīvības and Stabu streets (though of course Brīvības street – meaning Freedom Street – was called Lenin Street during the Soviet era, couldn’t have any references to freedom). […]

52 Ancestors #27: Bruno Maximillian Francis

Time for Week 27 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

Though I am cheating a bit this week. I will not be talking about a direct ancestor, but rather, the brother of a great-grandfather. With all […]

Happy Halloween!

No new puzzle today, Aila is taking the day off for every Goth’s favourite holiday – Halloween!

Now, Latvia doesn’t strictly speaking celebrate Halloween, but there are a number of Latvian pagan traditions that do mimic this holiday – most notably the practice of “ķekatas”. Now, in Latvian tradition, this going around to people’s homes dressed […]

The Spanish Flu Epidemic in Latvia

Most of you are probably familiar with the Spanish flu epidemic that ravaged the world from the beginning of 1918 to the end of 1920 and killed somewhere between 3 and 5 percent of the world’s population. But do you know how the epidemic took place in Latvia?

Since my great-great-grandmother Dorotea Matilde Francis (maiden name […]

Research on Second World War Displaced Persons

I am posting this on behalf of a member of the FEEFHS (Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies) Facebook group, since I know a number of readers here are descendants of Second World War Displaced Persons, and could thus help in the research.

She says:

As part of my master’s thesis on the legacy of WWII […]

24th Anniversary of the Baltic Way

Twenty-four years ago today, on August 23rd, 1989, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian people united in a show of Baltic unity not seen in history. Millions of people joined hands from Tallinn (Estonia), through the Estonian and Latvian countryside to Rīga (Latvia), and the through the Latvian and Lithuanian countryside to Vilnius (Lithuania). This date […]

“Rally Under the Latvian Flag!”

“Rally Under the Latvian Flag!”

This was the headline of the exhortation published on July 19, 1915, by Latvian members of the Imperial Russian Duma, Jānis Goldmanis and Jānis Zālītis, announcing that the Imperial Russian Army was allowing the formation of national battalions – in this case, the Latvian Riflemen Battalions, known in Latvian as “Strēlnieki”.

They […]

Liepāja’s Response – May 23, 1912

This is part of my series of interesting newspaper articles and snippets that I find in the old Latvian newspapers available through Periodika. Most of the articles I post are in some way related to migration, wars or other events that are of particular genealogical note.

Source: Liepājas Atbalss (Liepāja’s Response), May 23, 1912

Difficulties expected for […]

Latvian Royalty?

Now, the title is a bit of a misnomer. There isn’t a Latvian royal family. Nobles in Latvia were typically German, sometimes Polish, sometimes Russian. But this post is about a group in Latvia that can be considered the closest thing to nobility that ethnic Latvians have – the “kuršu ķoniņi”, or “Curonian Kings”.

This group […]