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Getting Out of Riga

Rīga is the capital city of Latvia and the largest city in the Baltics. Since Latvian records are largely unindexed, this means that locating an ancestor in Rīga is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

If your ancestors were ethnic Latvians, however, you might find yourself lucky – most ethnic Latvians in the capital [...]

Records after 1905

In my last post, a reader requested that I talk about records after 1905. So here we go!

There are lots of different types of records available for the post-1905 period – however, as of right now, none of them are available online. The main online genealogical resource for Latvian records – religious records on Raduraksti [...]

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 [...]

Britons in 1870s Latvia?

I’ve been looking through the church records for the Sece Lutheran congregation, in southern Latvia. South of the Daugava river, between the towns of Jaunjelgava and Jēkabpils. My great-grandfather Brencis Līcītis is allegedly from around this area, born in the neighbouring Sērene parish. Many Sērene baptisms took place in Sece, so hence my reason for [...]

Merry Christmas! Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus!

A very happy holiday to one and all!

The Latvian Ziemassvētki is an ancient celebration, a pre-Christian solstice celebration as in many European cultures. The Latvian name of the holiday never changed to reflect the new religion, however – “Ziemassvētki” means “Winter Holiday” or “Winter Celebration”.

Perhaps this is because Christianity came relatively late to the Baltics [...]