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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 [...]

Surname Saturday – Different Kinds of Hills

As many of you probably know, the Latvian word for hill, “kalns”, is a fairly common Latvian surname, particularly in its diminutive form Kalniņš.

But there are many different kind of “kalns” as well, as evidenced by my journeys through old church records. These names are particularly common in western Latvia, especially in communities such as [...]

Surname Saturday - Šīrs

Welcome to the return of Surname Saturday at Discovering Latvian Roots!

Today’s surname is Šīrs – this is the maiden name of my great-grandmother Lilija, who married Augusts Lūkins in 1921. Lilija’s parents were Jēkabs Šīrs and Kristīne Kukure. This is the family that I’ve been researching the most lately.

Jēkabs Šīrs was born on the Stābeģu [...]

Surname Saturday - Government Approved, Part 4

It’s been six months since I posted one of these lists… well, better late than never! The summer was very busy, and I moved, and only now have I recovered where I put these papers.

Onto the names! As before, these come from a list published in 1822 by the governing authorities in Latvia, encouraging the [...]

Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 3

Sorry for the long delay, school has been absolutely out of hand! But the summer arrives a week from now, so hopefully there will be more time to write here. I believe I’ve caught up on my email correspondence recently as well, so if you haven’t received a response from me, please resend your email, [...]

Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 2

Following along from my post two weeks ago, I am currently posting surnames that were approved and suggested by the government of Livland in the 1820s for peasants if they needed some ideas and inspiration.

This week’s category: Personal Attributes and Characteristics, that either one has, aspires to, or wants their descendants to aspire to. These [...]

Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 1

As I’ve mentioned before, surnames for peasants came relatively recently in Latvia – the early to mid 1800s. When the provincial governments issued the decree abolishing serfdom, soon after also came the surname proclamations. After peasants started giving themselves surnames, the lords and rulers started to notice trends that could prove problematic – most prominently, [...]

Surname Saturday - Aiz

Welcome to Surname Saturday on Discovering Latvian Roots!

Today we’re going to look at Latvian surnames beginning with the prefix “aiz-“. This is a prefix that can mean various things depending on the context, but most commonly it means “beyond”, “behind” or “across”.

All of these names are from surname lists found in the book “Kas jāzina [...]

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 [...]