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Š is for Šanhaja

“Šanhaja” is the Latvian name for “Shanghai”. But wait – why is a Chinese city a topic on a Latvian genealogy blog?

A year or so ago, the idea of Latvians in China might have seemed a bit strange to me too. But as I learned through my work with Latvians Abroad – Museum and Research […]

Ņ is for Ņižņijnovgoroda

Wow! That sure looks like a mouthful, doesn’t it? Don’t be too afraid though. This latest edition of Family History Through the Alphabet is just the Latvian name for the Russian city and oblast of Nizhny Novgorod.

Nizhny Novgorod is located in the eastern part of “European Russia”, and the oblast straddles the Volga River. The […]

Ī is for Īrija

Okay, this one is a stretch. But for this tricky letter of the Latvian alphabet and the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge, it’s all I’ve got.

“Īrija” is Latvian for “Ireland”. In this series, I have already mentioned a number of Irish connections to Latvian history, in terms of Irish-Russian military commanders. But today, I […]

D is for Denmark

It is time for the letter “D” in the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

D is for Denmark

After the Second World War, there were thousands of Displaced Persons (DPs) across Western Europe, having escaped the Soviet takeovers of their homes. A large number of these DP camps were in Germany, and they get the most […]

B is for Baptists and Brazil

Now up on the Family History through the Alphabet challenge…

B is for Baptists and Brazil

Now, you may be wondering what Baptists have to do with Brazil, and what either have to do with Latvia. Quite a lot actually!

Towards the end of the 19th century, while there were still lots of people emigrating from Europe to […]

“Who Do You Think You Are?” – Rashida Jones Episode Review

I never thought that this was something I’d end up doing on this blog – reviewing a Who Do You Think You Are? episode. But it has happened – last weekend’s episode took place partially in Latvia!

The celebrity in question was Rashida Jones, an American actress, daughter of music mogul Quincy Jones and actress Peggy […]

Latvian Genealogy Primer - Part 2

Part 2 – Genealogical Sources

After reading Part 1 of this primer, and the historical context of Latvian emigration, now it is time to move to genealogical sources – the resources that you can use to trace your Latvian ancestry.

What You Need to Know About Latvian Genealogy

Most records are in Russian or German prior to the […]

Latvian Genealogy Primer - Part 1

Ready to move on to genealogical sources? See Part 2 of this primer here.

Part 1 – Historical Context

What You Need to Know about Latvia

Latvia is a country in northeastern Europe, bordered by Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. The official language is Latvian, an Indo-European language of the Baltic branch, related to Lithuanian. Latvia has a […]

Birthday Gift for Aleksandrs Francis – September 24, 1945

My grandfather Aleksandrs Francis was born on September 24th, 1920. The first twenty years of his life were, by all accounts, relatively normal for a middle-class Latvian youth growing up in the 20s and 30s. He attended an agricultural high school, followed by a degree in agronomy from the Jelgava Academy of Agriculture.

Then in 1940, […]

Wordless Wednesday - Where is This?

Can anyone help identify the building in this photograph? I’m pretty sure it is in Denmark, since it is a photo of my grandmother from her collection of Displaced Persons camp photographs, c. 1945-1949. However, I haven’t been able to turn up any results. Also possible that it could be in northern Germany around Hamburg […]