Organized by Source
The genealogical data presented on this site have been assembled from a rich variety of sources, with a strong emphasis on official government records and publications; several major categories are outlined here. Sufficiently long lists of names can be searched through The All-Latvia Searchable Database, while several smaller lists can be browsed here as examples of what is available. As described below, the Courland Research Group has accumulated a large amount of material that has yet to be transcribed. Volunteers to help in this valuable effort are always welcome, as are suggestions and donations of additional material.
Documentation relevant to Courland Jewry is held in several Archives in Latvia, most notably the Latvian State Historical Archives, which hold a large repository of original documentation including census, tax and military recruitment records, as well as vital records. A full list of
is provided on Arlene Beare's Riga ShtetLinks page; these are now accessible on-line (see below).
For individual enquiries, the Archives can be contacted at: Latvian State Historical Archives, Slokas iela 16, Riga LV-1007, Latvia. Billing is according to work performed; an initial deposit may be requested on the first enquiry.
Recruits Enlistment Registers and Family Lists
More than 4,000 entries, covering over 6,000 named individuals, are included in a searchable list of adult family members extracted from official Jewish
Military Recruits Registers from seven major cities of Courland, together
with an 1874 family census list from Bauska.
This list is part of the
All Latvia Database, where additional information is provided.
Passport Pictures of 1920-1930 Libau Residents
The Latvian State Historical Archives can prepare postcard-size copies of passport pictures of Libau residents taken between 1920 and 1930. Edward Anders has generously offered to cover the cost of these copies (ca. US$5 per copy). See PDF file for more details.
Goldingen Jewish Families 1842
Jewish Records in the Latvian State Historical Archives
The Archives of Latvia have scanned all of their original vital records and made them available on-line. Registration is free but is mandatory; once you have registered you can go directly to the log-in page. Martha Lev-Zion has transcribed the extant birth and death records for Goldingen for the Courland Research Group; a list of other towns covered by the records is also provided. A very large set of these other records have been transcribed by Christine Usdin.
Courland archival records microfilmed in 1940 and now held by the
at the University of Marburg, Germany. The Courland Research Group has acquired a set of these films from the Herder Institute, and the contents are used here with the permission of the Institute. The Family History Library of the Church of Latter-Day Saints also has copies of the films, and their detailed index is used here with permission. (Note: this is a very large file; if you are looking for a specific location, Paul Berkay's alphabetical version of the index may be easier to use.)
Jews in Hasenpoth / Aizpute 1834
Goldingen Oklad 1799
An Oklad (tax) list showing men, women and children can be browsed, along with a sample scanned page. This list is notable for being among the oldest on the Herder collection of microfilms.
Paul Berkay's Kurländische Seelenliste Database
This link includes background to the microfilmed documents, as well as translations of the 1811-1813 Jakobstadt Oklad (tax registry) and the 1797 parish censuses for the Dunaburg (Dvinsk) and Uberlautz districts.
The regional government newspapers, Gubernskie Vedomosti, were published throughout the Russian Empire, with the Courland edition commencing publication in 1852. The official announcements in these newspapers, many of which named individuals or short lists of individuals, provide valuable and often poignant insights into daily life in Courland.
Voter Lists 1905-1912
Elections were held for the Russian Parliament (Duma) in 1906, 1907 and 1912, and the voter lists published in Gubernskie Vedomosti represent a substantial genealogical resource. Names of 3,300 male Jews eligible to vote in the 1907
Russian Duma elections in twenty of the major towns and villages of
Courland gubernia, including entries for the 1905 list of Jewish voters
of Windau, can be searched via the
All Latvia Database.
Information on the lists and examples of the original pages are provided under the auspices of the Database. A list of predominantly Jewish voters in Libau disqualified from voting in 1912, and short 1907 voters lists from Sassmacken and Subate are available for browsing.
Mitau Tax Defaulters 1853
A typical example of the types of short lists published in the context of official announcements is the list of tax defaulters in Mitau, containing fewer than 100 names.
A list of 990 names of Jews without lawful permits was published in the summer of 1855. It can be searched via the
All Latvia Database, which also provides additional
Tukums Tax Defaulters 1866
Gubernskie Vedomosti On-Line
The short lists and diverse nature of the announcements makes them less amenable to consolidation into a large searchable database, where much of the human picture captured in the announcements can be lost. Through the kind efforts of Max Michelsohn, announcements are translated and reproduced in
Gubernskie Vedomosti On-Line.
Business directories were published for Courland and subsequently, after independence, for Latvia as a whole. These directories are useful not just in showing ownership of businesses for the different towns, but also the organization and office-holders in many civic and religious institutions. These directories thus provide a broad picture of the social and economic fabric of the town -- town government, religion, business, and more.
1912 Baltische Verkehrs- und Adressbuch
A full set of page scans, other than a small fraction of missing pages, is provided for this Courland volume of a 1912 Baltic business directory. This volume, in Gothic German print, provides information on the history and community organization of individual towns as well as extensive listings of individuals, including their addresses and occupations. There is also an extensive listing of estates, including names of owners.
This is an example, posted earlier than the full volume above, of a short entry from a business directory, namely that for Sassmacken. The information here shows extensive overlap with the voter lists described above, given that owning a business was one qualification for voting. Locations of many of the businesses are also shown on
Solomon Katzen's map of Sassmacken.
The full original German entry is shown, along with the transcribed list of names.
1924 State Address Calendar
Scans of the Industry section of the 1924 State Address Calendar have been prepared by Paul Berkay, along with background information and a guide to interpreting the information, which was presented in Latvian in the wake of Latvian independence following WW I.
Although relatively few homes had telephones, especially in the rural areas, telephone directories are a valuable resource for those families and businesses that are included because they also provide address information. The Courland Research Group has copies of Latvian telephone directories for 1928 and 1940, and thus provide a small window on the twilight of the Latvian Jewish community.
1940 Telephone Directory
The Courland Research Group web site previously posted entries for Bausk from the 1940 directory, including a couple of dozen Jewish surnames in their Latvian form. More recently, however, the entire directory has been made available on a different site, organized by place name (in Latvian).
Records of Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews
The Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews keeps a set of records at Kibbutz Shefayim describing many aspects of Jewish life in Latvia and Estonia. Information concerning the holdings are made available by kind permission of the Association and its Archivist, Shlomo Kurlandchik. Martha Lev-Zion's role was instrumental in making most of these records accessible on-line.
Indices of Records in the Shefayim Archive
Index of Estonian Records in the Shefayim Archive
In addition to the Latvian records above, the Association has some holdings on the small Jewish community of Estonia, a list of which is available on this site.
Tukums Community Pre-1941
This memoir by an unknown author was translated by Martha Lev-Zion. It describes the structure, activities and participants in the Jewish community of Tukums in the early 20th century, and serves as a Yizkor book for this community.
Jews from Dvinsk Who Fought in World War II
Shlomo Kurlandchik, the Director of the Association, has extracted this list from the
book, in Russian, "The Jews from Daugavpils at the Front from the World War".
Monographs and Journals
Several scholarly works provide a summary of the contributions of individuals in different professions to life in Courland. Despite the focus on individual achievement, family details are sometimes included as well.
The Doctors of Courland 1825-1900, by Issidorus Brennsohn
This book, published in Mitau in 1904, provides biographies of about 125 doctors with Jewish
connections. Two examples are provided, with the remainder of the book yet to be translated and transcribed.
Toldot Yeshivot Ha'Yehudim B'Kurland, by Levi Avtsinski
This book covers more than 300 years of history of the Rabbis of Courland, from 1561 to 1908. The book was published in Hebrew in 1908, with a Yiddish edition following several years later. It is organized by town, and not only names the Rabbis and many family members, but also provides interesting anecdotes collected over the years. Translation and transcription are in progress.
Jahrbuch für Genealogie, Heraldik und Sphragistik: Goldingen pre-1889
This was a scholarly journal covering primarily the nobility of Courland, with very little information of interest to Jewish genealogists. An exception is an article on the citizenry of Goldingen, including a list of about 2000 names, more than 150 of them Jewish. Although the records of the time were incomplete, Eric Benjaminson's extract and translation of the Jewish names is a valuable source for Goldingen genealogy.
Data of interest to Courland genealogists are also included in several other searchable and/or browsable databases, provided by Jewishgen, by Latvia SIG, and others.
Jewishgen Family Finder
The most notable of the numerous Jewishgen databases is the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF), a database of
ancestral towns and surnames currently being researched by
Jewish genealogists worldwide. It can be searched either through the JGFF Home Page or, for Courland researchers, using the link below.
Jewish Religious Personnel in
of over 4,000 synagogue employees from 900 towns
throughout the Pale of Settlement.
HaMelitz Lithuanian and
Latvian Donors, 1893-1903
of almost 20,000 Lithuanian and Latvian charity
donors, listed in this Hebrew periodical.
Latvian Subscription List Database
A browsable list
assembled by Harold Rhode for Latvia SIG from several sources: subscription lists appearing in books published
during the 19th and early 20th centuries denoting sponsorship of the authors; names from the index of
the book Di geshikhte fun di Idn in Letland fun yor 1561-1923 [History of the Jews in Latvia], published in 1928
in Riga; contributors to agricultural communities in present-day Israel and
State Department Riga Consulate Records, 1924
A browsable list
assembled by Mike Getz for Latvia SIG, from records of Diplomatic and Consular offices of the U.S. Department of State, presently located in the National Archives II facility in College Park, MD.
Kurlander Young Men's Mutual Aid Society
A browsable list
assembled by Naomi Freistadt for Latvia SIG, recording the names, dates of birth, towns of origin and names of spouses, where available, of members born in Latvia.The period covered stretches from the 1870s to the 1920s and later.
Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter Database, 1895-1914
The Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter in London was the temporary home of many east European Jews on their way to their new homes abroad. Jews from Latvia and Lithuania en route to the US and South Africa are disproportionately well represented. A database has been constructed at the University of Leicester under the leadership of Professor Aubrey Newman and Dr. John Graham Smith, based on the Shelter registers between 1895 and 1914. The development of the database, and analysis of the records, are described in a
paper, and the database can be searched on the web site of the
Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town.
1941-1945 Libau Victims and Survivors
Edward Anders and colleagues have assembled a remarkably complete listing covering almost all the 7100 Jews who lived in Libau in June 1941. This searchable database includes family relationships, addresses, dates of birth and death, and numerous other sources of genealogical data in the tragic story that it tells. Dr. Anders is offering a memorial book, free of charge, containing 7060 names of the 1941 Jewish residents of Libau. He has also made available to the Courland Research Group the complete list of surnames represented in his database, as well as a separate list sorted alphabetically by maiden names.
1930s Libau Business and Property Owners
Latvian Jews Executed during the Stalin Era
A Russian-language on-line database lists more than 2000 Jews who lived in Moscow and were executed
during the Stalin era. A list of about 100 of these having Latvian roots is provided here; it was extracted and translated by Stanislav Gorbulev.