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Surname Saturday – “Ābele/Ābols/Āboliņš”

Welcome back to Surname Saturday on Discovering Latvian Roots! Sorry I’ve been quite busy recently, but now I’m starting to be able to get back to genealogy and genealogy blogging.

Today we’re going to look at names relating to three similar-sounding Latvian names and names derived from them. All three appear on the list of common [...]

Surname Changes and Popular Surnames

In the interwar period, many Latvians changed their surnames. As I was browsing the abstracts for the name change documents, I saw many of the changes took place in the first half of 1940. When I went to the Latvian National Library, I was able to read a book that described what people who wanted [...]

What Do You Want To Read?

Sorry for the lack of posting the past couple of weeks – I was making my way home from Latvia, and then, just four days after getting home, moved across the province. I’m mostly settled in now, and starting to process everything I learned and found while I was researching in the archives in Latvia.

There’s [...]

Surname Saturday - Early Latvian Surnames

As I’ve mentioned before, most Latvians didn’t have surnames prior to the early 19th century. They were peasants, and until serfdom was abolished, surnames were not a necessity since they were tied to the land. It was only afterwards that surnames became necessary.

But not all Latvians were peasants. Some were merchants, craftsmen and traders, and [...]

Project Update – June 2, 2010

The Latvian Surname Project has been updated!

The total name count is now 800, I added 200 new names including TRĪSTILTIŅŠ and PODNIEKS.

Today I am also launching a new project, the Latvian Farm Project. The goal of this project is to match old farm names to their pre-WW2 parishes, as well as begin a study on [...]

Surname Saturday – Compound Surnames

Welcome back to Surname Saturday on Discovering Latvian Roots!

This week I’m going to talk about compound surnames – that is, a surname formed from two words, rather than one. These are a relative rarity in Latvian surnames when it comes to names of Latvian language origin (German language origin compound surnames are more common when [...]

Sorting Out Ethnicity

So you have established that your ancestors lived on Latvian territory. But what were their ethnic origins? Latvia has been a multi-ethnic territory for centuries, so the distinctions between ethnic groups might not always be so clear in the old records.

There are, however, numerous ways in which to establish someone’s ethnic identity. They are not [...]

Project Update - February 15, 2010

The Latvian Surname Project has been updated!

The Surname Project has 153 new names, including BĒRZLAPA and MIEŽUVĀRPA. That brings the total number of surnames in the project so far to 521!

I’m afraid I don’t have a Record Project update this time – life has gotten in the way. I’ve also had a bit of trouble [...]

Surname Saturday – Time for Dinner!

When Latvian peasants were choosing surnames after emancipation from serfdom, they were strongly encouraged by the German and Russian rulers to choose names in their own language, and were forbidden to choose names of local nobles or famous people.

While not all obeyed this directive and chose German names (or had German names assigned to them [...]

Surname Saturday – Kukurs

This edition of Surname Saturday is about the surname Kukurs.

I have chosen this surname for two reasons – a person with this surname in my family tree is currently giving me trouble, and I happened across the definition of this word in my Latvian etymological dictionary while looking for something else.

The root of the word [...]