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Jewish Marriages in Riga, 1854-1921

Commissioned by Arlene Beare
Donated by the JewishGen Latvia SIG

· Introduction
· How do I obtain these records?
· How do I find out more?
· The Jewish Community of Riga
· Acknowledgements
· Search the Database

This database is from an alphabetical register of the 9,241 marriages, recorded in Fond 5024 in the Latvian State Historical Archives in Riga.  The list was compiled in Russian, probably at the beginning of the 20th century.  The marriages date from 1854-1921.

This database contains only the names of the bride and groom (surname and given name), and the year of marriage.  All further information must be obtained from the Archives in Latvia.

Note that some names of brides ands grooms are missing, because the name does not appear in the original records.

How do I obtain these records?

The records up to 1905 are held by the Latvian State Historical Archives.  You must write to:

Ms. Irina Veinberga, Head of Department
Latvian State Historical Archives  (Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs)
Slokas iela 16
Riga LV-1048
LATVIA

E-mail: irinwein@latnet.lv.

The records from 1906-1921 are held at:

The Archives of the Registry Department
Kalku Street 24
Riga LV-1050
LATVIA

The Latvian State Historical Archives will provide copies with translations into English or German, whereas the Archives of the Registry Office do not provide copies, but just give the detailed report in Latvian.  The usual cost of a record from the Latvian State Historical Archives is about 10 dollars US, but they will let you know how much to send.  The Archives of the Registry have to bill through the Consular Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  After you contact them with a request for a registration document they will let you know how much it will cost and where you have to send the money.

The only information that we have as regards applying to the Archives of the Registry Office comes from a reseracher that applied for research and reported the following to us. She has reported that this archive apparently does not have the facilities to accept foreign currency, so it bills through the Latvian Embassy.  The embassy will send a notification that documents have been received, and will request payment by money order.  The embassy will then mail the documents, which are actually certified abstracts.  The abstracts are entirely in Latvian, and are not translated.  If documents are not found, a certificate to that effect will be issued, along with a statement of which records were searched in vain.  There may be a charge even if no names are found.

The JewishGen Latvia SIG would like to hear of the experiences of anyone dealing with the Archives of the Registry, so that we can update this information.

How do I find out more about family members who are listed?

Write to the Latvian State Historical Archives (address above), giving as much detail as possible about your relatives.  This should include as many family names as possible, dates of birth, marriage or death, where they are said to have lived and when they left Latvia.

The archives now have a policy of charging a preliminary search fee of $100 before embarking on research, plus additional fees for work undertaken.  When sending a cheque a $20 amount must be added for exchange.  This does not apply to if money is sent as a money order (postal order).  They provide a highly professional service and will bill you on completion of the work.  Although the fees have increased over the past years they do not usually exceed $250-$350.  Their expertise in identifying and tracing the Jewish families of Latvia is outstanding.  Experiences of other researchers are often posted in the Discussion groups and you may read these messages by going to the JewishGen website and clicking on the JewishGen Discussion Group message archives and carrying out a search for "archive" and "Latvia" or "Latvian".

A Brief History of the Jewish Community of Riga

Riga was founded in 1201 by the Teutonic Order.  Jews have lived in Latvia for many centuries under German (The Teutonic Knights), Polish, Prussian, Swedish and Danish rule.  They originated from Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and other countries.  Jewish history in the tiny shtetlach dates back to the 15th century and possibly even to the 10th century.  The first houses for Jews in Riga were built in 1638, however Jews were not allowed to settle in Riga on a permanent basis.  A Chevra Kadisha (burial society) was officially founded in 1765.  In 1785, Catherine the Great allowed Jews (and in fact people of any religion) to settle near the Baltic Coast in Sloka (Shlok), about 35 km west of Riga.  Jews were granted permission to live in Riga in 1813.  In 1841, the Russian Senate proposed that some Jews could be registered in Riga but not newcomers.  Riga was never part of the Pale of Settlement.  In 1832, the community of “Jews of Shlok (Sloka) residing in Riga” applied for a Jewish school in Riga.  Thus, one of the first Jewish schools (Kaplan school) was established in 1840 in Riga, with German as the language of tuition.  The first Riga synagogue was built in 1850.  The area around Moscow Road known as "Moscow Vorstadt" was a main area of Jewish settlement for the poorer Jews.  This area became the Riga Ghetto during the 2nd World War.  The 1897 All Russian Census reported that there were 21,963 Jews in Riga.  There were 33,600 Jews in Riga in 1914.  According to official statistics, Latvian Jews numbered 95,675, or 5.2% of the total population in 1925, and 41% of Jews lived in Riga, where over one-fourth of all commercial and industrial enterprises were owned by Jews.  There is a difference of opinion about how many Jews perished in the Holocaust, varying from 63,000 to 73,000.

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Michael Tobias and Warren Blatt, our webmasters, for their patience and support.  They work very hard to get the databases online and their work is really appreciated.  The Database has been commissioned and coordinated by Arlene Beare on behalf of the JewishGen Latvia SIG.  If you have any further inquiries about the work of the JewishGen Latvia SIG, please feel free to contact either Barry Shay the President or Mike Getz the Treasurer.  If you would like to subscribe to the Latvia SIG Newsletter and become a member, the details are available on the JewishGen Latvia SIG website.

Copyright JewishGen Latvia SIG
September 2005

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Last Update: 19 Sep 2005   WSB
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