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Dags' Latvian Genealogy Guide

Intended audience: English-speaking individuals interested in tracing their Latvian ancestors. The links provided here are likely to be of interest to both beginner and experienced genealogists.

General Web Resources

On-line searches

There are several searchable databases on the Web. Don't be surprised if you don't find any matches, as there are very few Latvian entries as yet.

  • Helm's Genealogy Toolbox Surname/Family Queries
    Besides doing a search, there's also a forms-based page for submitting a query to other readers of the page. Here's a sample submission:
    ZHURNAMER especially
    in Latvia, Lithuania, Holland, Suriname, South Africa, Australia,
    and Israel.
    Judith Langer Caplan

Researching from afar (without the Web)

One of the more important resources for genealogy research is the Mormon church (The Church of the Latter Day Saints), which is probably the world's largest maintainer of genealogical information. There are numerous LDS Family History Centers in the USA, Canada, British Isles, New Zealand and Australia; a list can be found at If you happen to live near one of these centers, or have the opportunity to visit one, you're apt to find some interesting information in the following resources:

  • The microfiche of Latvian resources
  • Ancestral File
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  • Family Registry - names of researchers working on a particular name. On microfiche.

Shown below is an example of the data available from the microfiche on Latvia. Note that the text of the records reproduced on this microfilm is in German. Depending on the period, however, the text could be in German, Russian or Latvian. Note, too, that the place currently known as Dundaga was then known, in German, as Dondangen. In this case, the two place names are very similar; in other cases, though, the name changes are not obvious at all. For example, Mitau is the place known presently as Jelgava. A database or list of alternate place names would be of great interest to Latvian genealogical researchers. I would very much like to hear from anyone who has such a list, or even the beginnings of one.


Seuberlich, Erich.
Kurland: Auszug aus dem Kirchenbuch : Dondangen, 1710-1870. --
Salt Lake City : Gefilmt durch The Genealogical Society of
Utah, 1992. -- auf 1 Mikrofilmrolle ; 35 mm.

Mikrofilm aufgenommen von Manuskripten in der Zentralstelle
Genealogie, Leipzig.
Extracts of parish registers (marriages, deaths) from the
community of Dondangen, Courland, Russia; now Dundaga,
Text in German.

Heiraten 1711-1836
Taufen 1710-1839
item 5.
Konfirmanden 1718-1838
Tote 1712-1844
Kommunikanten 1751-1839
Vereidigungen 1819-1870

Once you've found an item of interest, you can order it for a nominal fee and have it sent to your local History Center. At the time of this writing, it costs $3 US per microfilm for a three-week loan, and an additional $1.50 to make that a six-month loan. Requests usually take a few weeks to process.

Where to write in Latvia

  • Central State History Archives
    Centralais Valsts vestures arhivs
    Slokas iela 16
    Riga, LV 226007

  • Central State Archives
    Centralais Valsts vestures arhivs
    Bezdeligu iela 1
    Riga, LV 226007
  • Central State Cine-Phono-Photo Document Archives
    Centralais Valsts Kino-Foto-Fono-Dokumentu arhivs
    Skuna iela 11
    Riga, LV 226007
  • Lutheran Church
    Latvijas ev. lut. baznicas konsitorija
    Lacplesa iela 4-4
    Riga, LV 226010
  • Catholic Church
    Katolu baznicas metropolijas Kurija
    M. Pils iela 2a
    Riga, LV 226047
  • Orthodox Church
    Krievu pareizticiga baznicas parijas parvalde
    M. Pils iela 2a
    Riga, LV 226047

Latvian language

Latvian is one of the Indo-European languages. Some interesting information about the language can be found at the Omniglot Website.

The Latvian alphabet

The Latvian alphabet cannot be reproduced in its entirety in 7-bit ASCII. Uldis Balodis' excellent Web page on the Latvian language is at: It contains information about, and images of, the Latvian character set, as well as interesting historical and descriptive information. For those with text-based browsers, the letters look something like this:

_ v _ v _ v _ v
' ' ' '

The Latvian character sets

ASCII Number Code
Lowercase Uppercase
a-macron 130 129
e-macron 149 148
i-macron 180 177
o-macron 216 207
u-macron 240 237
g-cedilla 174 254
k-cedilla 250 181
l-cedilla 186 185
n-cedilla 192 191
r-cedilla 224 223
c-caron 139 137
s-caron 228 225
z-caron 236 235

Baltic Rim (cp1257) (or LVS 8-92-1)

ASCII Number Code
Lowercase Uppercase
a-macron 226 194
e-macron 231 199
i-macron 238 206
o-macron 244 212
u-macron 251 219
g-cedilla 236 204
k-cedilla 237 205
l-cedilla 239 207
n-cedilla 242 210
r-cedilla 186 170
c-caron 232 200
s-caron 240 208
z-caron 254 222

Names: gender-specific endings

Male names

Almost always end in the letter "s"; one exception is Hugo. For example, Vilnis, Viesturs, Juris, Guntars. Americanised (Anglicised) nicknames often are the result of simply removing the "s" at the end, e.g. "Robert" instead of "Roberts".

Female names

Always end in a vowel, usually "a", but sometimes "e". For example, Daina, Jalna, Elza, Vija, Liene. Note that, in most cases, a woman's surname is modified to end in an "a" rather than her husband's name, which ends in "s". For example, Austra Ozols is addressed as Austra Ozola.

Genealogy Related Words

English Latvian German French
born dzimis geboren
christened kristits taufen baptiser
confirmed iesvetits confirmer
married laulats heiraten marier
died miris sterben mourir
buried apbedits beerdigte enterrer

English Latvian German French
father tevs vater père
mother mate mutter mère
brother bralis bruder frère
sister masa schwester soeur
cousin (male) bralens vetter cousin
cousin (female) masica cousine cousine
grandfather vectevs grossvater grand-père
grandmother vecmate grossmutter grand-mère
uncle onkols onkel oncle
aunt tante tante tante

English Latvian German French
day diena tag jour
week nedela woche semaine
month meness monat mois
year gads jahr année
English Latvian German French
January janvaris Januar janvier
February februaris Februar fevrier
March marts M�rz mars
April aprilis April avril
May maijs Mai mai
June junijs Juni june
July julijs Juli juillet
August augusts August aout
September septembris September septembre
October oktobris Oktober octobre
November novembris November novembre
December decembris December decembre