According to the Raduraksti website, the Latvian State Historical Archives holds vital records (birth, marriage, death) from 1854, the year they started to be held officially, until 1909. Among other records held are the first All-Russian Census of 1897.
The holdings of the LHSA contain many Jewish records. This inventory of Jewish holdings at the Latvian State Historical Archives is a listing and not a searchable database. There may be some overlap with the Raduraksti listings that are part of the Jewish Vital Records Database (see below), so researchers should check both places before submitting a research request to the Archives. The list is divided by the three historical and geographical areas of Latvia – Courland, Livland and Vitebsk – which were separate gubernias under the Russian Empire.
In 2010 the LSHA created a virtual reading room (the Raduraksti website)which provides access to church records, vital records of the Rabbinate, revision lists of Livland and Courland, materials of Russian Empire Census (1897) in Courland, Livland and Vitebsk gubernias. Christine Usdin has undertaken the huge task of translating the Jewish vital records, the first of which have recently been incorporated into a new JewishGen database. The introduction to the Jewish Vital Records of Latvia Database details the project, which is still in progress. So far, only the death records have been included in the searchable database. These records are also included in the larger JewishGen Latvia Database.
The JewishGen database include abstracts of the records. To view digital copies of the original records on the Raduraksti website, you need to know the town and the record information (page and record number) from the abstract. You will need to create a userid and password to access the website. Most of the Jewish vital records are in both Russian and Hebrew, which is an advantage for researchers who may not know Russian, but who have a familiarity with Hebrew.
Not all LSHA records have been incorporated into the Raduraksti website, and the digital images on the website are not translated. For records beyond the scope of the Jewish Vital Records described above, the LSHA accepts research requests from genealogical researchers, both via mail and online. The mailing address is:
Latvian State Historical Archives
(Latvijas valsts vestures arhivs)
Slokas iela 16
If the archivists find that there is no information available to satisfy a research request, the researcher will be notified, and no payment is required. If information is available, the Archives requires an advance payment of $100 (US) or 70 €. The archivists currently (9/2011) estimate the average turnaround time to be approximately one year from receipt of payment, although the website still estimates 6 to 12 months. Payment must be made via bank transfer, and details will be provided when the request is accepted.
Additional information on the research process may be found on the Archives website.
Requests may be made by email by contacting Irina.Veinberga@arhivi.gov.lv
According to the Raduraksti website, records beyond 1909 are beyond the scope of the LSHA holdings. Records from 1910 and beyond are kept in the Registry Office Archives of the Ministry of Justice of Latvia:
Latvian Archives of the Registry Department
(Tieslietu ministrijas Dzimtsarakstu departamenta arhīvā)
A. Čaka ielā, 38a
Telephone: 67830682 , 67830684, fax: 67830673
For some areas, the Archives of the Registry holds records from as late as 1944. If the information is not available for a particular area, the archivists will forward requests to the appropriate regional Registry office.
The Archives of the Registry bills researchers through the Latvian Embassy. The embassy sends a notification that documents have been received, and requests payment. Upon receipt, the embassy will then mail the documents, which are actually certified abstracts. The abstracts are entirely in Latvian, and are not translated. In the past, the fee was $20 U.S. per name search, regardless of whether any documents were found. If documents are not found, a certificate to that effect will be issued, along with a statement of which records were searched in vain. The embassy will inform the researcher of the current fees and preferred method of payment.
There are also 11 Regional State Archives (RSA) offices throughout Latvia which keep documents since World War II. According to the LSHA, there is almost no information of Jewish interest.
NOTE: Thanks to Rita Bogdanova of the Latvian State Historical Archives for her comments and additions to this revised webpage.
Mobile 371 6416972
Aleks is a Latvian Jewish genealogical researcher and historian who is also a contributing editor to Avotaynu. He is available for research services, photographing of towns and cemeteries, and as a tour guide. He will perform research for families originating in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Russia and Poland. His services are described on his website.
Note: Inclusion on this page does not constitute an endorsement by the Latvia SIG. Members should contact researchers in advance regarding fees and services offered.