Jewish Inhabitants of Riga, 1885/1886
"The Riga Police Lists"
Commissioned and Donated by
Arlene Beare and the
This database consists of entries for 2,646 Jews
registered as living in Riga in 1885/1886.
These lists were compiled by the Police in Riga in 1885/1886.
The original list, organised by suburb and district of residence,
was a comprehensive inventory of Jewish families. The Jews
were considered a separate Hebrew nationality ["Ebraier"] and
like other foreign nationals had to be registered with the
police authorities. Unfortunately the lists only survive in
part so that there would have been substantially more adult Jews
living and working in Riga than appear in these lists.
The surviving parts of the list now form part of the holdings
State Historical Archives in Riga.
These Police Lists cover two Fonds, numbers 7358 and 51.
The lists are hand written in Cyrillic, with some German annotation.
Taking into account the fact that the list includes reference
to the father's name as well as the person registered,
there are over 4,000 named individuals referred to in
this database and in many cases two generations.
The Database Entry Fields
- Surname -
In some cases alternate forms or spellings are given separated
by a slash ("/").
- Maiden Name -
In some cases a married woman's maiden name is given.
Both Surname and Married name can be searched on the
- Given Name -
This entry field gives the person's given name or names,
as set out in the Register.
- Father -
1,544 of the 2,646 entries give the registered person's
father's name, effectively giving access to two generations.
- Age -
This entry field gives the age of the person in 1885/1886,
when the list was initially compiled.
- Place of Origin -
A wide variety of places are mentioned. It is not clear
whether this refers to the place of birth or the place where
the person lived immediately prior to being registered in Riga.
- Town -
All entries are marked as "Riga", as this is a list of the
Jewish inhabitants of Riga.
- Comment -
This column provides a variety of information, in some cases
including occupations, information on whether the person was
retired, divorced or widowed etc.
- Fond Number -
This number helps the archivists at the Latvian State
Historical Archives in Riga locate the original information when
inquiries are made.
What does it mean if my relative is not listed?
The list is a starting point but it is not definitive.
Parts of the list have not survived, so some families who
were living in Riga are not traceable through this search.
Keep searching and keep an open mind.
Be sure to check other sources and do not limit yourself to
materials from Riga. It is highly likely that a generation
or two back you will find family connections in other areas
such as Courland, Vitebsk, Latgale, or Lithuania.
It may be that your family was not yet in Riga or that they
were living "informally" in Riga but not registered officially.
Jews often retained their registration in their town of origin
while living in a different place entirely and that is one of
the many challenges for genealogists and family historians whose
roots are in the Baltic areas. Be sure that you also search
the Riga Tax List Database, and use
all possible variants of spelling.
The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex facility should pick up a wide
range of spelling variations, but it can be useful to try further
variations yourself to cast the net a little wider.
For example, searching the soundex search on "Vipman" will
pick up "Wippman", but will fail to identify "Whippman" as
a related name. In fact these are all spelling variations
of the same family which can also be spelled "Wepman".
What does this List tell us about the Jewish Community of
Riga in 1885?
This list is a rich source for the history of the Jewish community.
Of the 2,646 officially registered inhabitants, over 400 or 15% are
connected to the military in some way: either soldiers, retired
soldiers or widows of soldiers. Other registrants provided
essential services, such as Hinde Loewenberg, aged 30, midwife.
The wide variety of places given as "Place of Origin" give some
feel for the cosmopolitan nature of the Jewish community settled
in Riga in this period. For more information about the
Jews of Riga, visit the
ShtetLinks Page, set up and maintained by Arlene Beare, which
features new information on a regular basis.
Where can I get further information about persons appearing
on this list?
Neither the Latvia SIG or the Database Co-Ordinator have any
further documentation relating to individuals or their families
in this list. The original list is held in the
State Historical Archives in Riga and they must be contacted
directly for further information about individuals or families
mentioned or copies of documents.
For further information contact:
Ms. Irina Veinberga, Head of Department
Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs
(Latvian State Historical Archives)
Slokas iela 16
Rīga LV 1007
The archives now have a policy of charging a preliminary
search fee of $50 before embarking on research, plus an
additional fee for each family member located.
They provide a highly professional service and will
bill you on completion of the work. Their expertise
in identifying and tracing the Jewish residents of this
area is unrivalled.
Mike Getz [USA], the past president of the Latvia SIG and
Arlene Beare [UK], the founder of the Riga Shtetlink Resource,
commissioned and compiled this list with advice and encouragement
from the archivists in Riga, which was greatly appreciated.
Our knowledge of the Jews of Riga has been greatly increased
by this wonderful donation. Michael Whippman [UK]
contributed computer skills in preparing the lists for
publication. Our enduring thanks as always to
Warren Blatt for support and encouragement and most
especially to our webmaster, Michael Tobias.
Sponsorship and Volunteering
The Riga lists would not have been possible had it not been
for a substantial financial donation as well as all the hard work
that went into compiling the list. For further information
about donations, please contact
Arlene Beare or
Mike Getz, treasurer.
If you would like to join the database volunteer
effort please contact
the database co-ordinator. You will be warmly welcomed.
Constance Whippman, Database Co-ordinator
Copyright ©2000, The Latvia SIG.
Last Updated: May 19, 2001 WSB