Locating Missing Heirs

Genealogical research in Latvia

Historical and genealogical research carried out by our specialists is the reconstruction of family history based on documents found in state archives, parish museums, libraries and other repositories in Latvia, as well as in neighboring countries and far abroad.

The preservation of archival documents in many cases allows research up to the 18th century inclusive, depending on the class affiliation and residence (Courland, Livonia, Latgale) of your ancestors.

We conduct genealogical research for several periods of time:

  • Pre-revolutionary period (from 1800 to the October Revolution of 1917)
  • The period of independence of the Republic of Latvia (1918-1940)
  • Soviet period (from 1940 to 1991)
  • Republic of Latvia at present (since 1991)

The procedure for conducting genealogical research

Defining the goal and objectives

First of all, the customer determines the specific purpose of the research: why they have decided to search for information about their ancestors and what they want to receive as a result.

Based on the goals defined by the customer, our specialists draw up a rough plan and determine the priority and secondary tasks of the upcoming research.

For instance, the goal could be – obtaining a residence permit in Latvia, as a direct descendant of a citizen of the Republic of Latvia in 1940 and a Latvian.

Either the goal could be – a complete historical, genealogical and biographical study of the materials of the archives of Latvia for each representative of the genus.

Obtaining initial information

In any case, it is necessary to obtain as much initial information as possible from the customer regarding the residence of their ancestors in the territory of the Republic of Latvia of the present day, and first of all, the denominations of their ancestors (Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Orthodox, Old Believers, etc.). The name is important, surname, approximate dates of birth and the parish or county where your ancestors lived: Courland, Livonia or Latgale.

Theoretically, on the basis of information about the surname (only Latvian), we can roughly determine where (in which parish) the ancestors of the customer lived: in Kurzeme, Zemgale, Sēlija, Vidzeme or Latgale.

Family history since the end of the 18th century

Name of the house, surname, Revision Lists, family number, metrical books.

For centuries, until the 19th century, the peasants only used the names that were sometimes mentioned in documents, for instance, Jan from the Vanags family house. Thus, the main source of information in the study becomes the name of the house (for example, Vanags), in which the peasants lived. Peasants rarely changed their place of residence.

After 1820, surnames appear for the first time, which appear in the Revision Lists (8th Revision List). Together with the surname, the family number is indicated, which changes according to Revisions.

Surnames had to be decent and euphonious, corresponding to the native language. Often, the name of a house or a populated place was used as a surname. Most of the names were given by the parish court.

By family number and surname, you can establish the entire genus and produce a genealogical family tree.

The surnames given to peasants in Kurzeme, Zemgale and Sēlija, and in Vidzeme and Latgale, are different, which makes it possible to identify them.

Entries in the metrical books appear at the end of the 18th century and they contain only the names and the name of the place of residence of those born and christened.

And only from the beginning of the 19th century, with the advent of surnames, in the metrical books of churches it is already possible to establish the belonging of a person to a family and clan.

Based on the place of residence of the person and their surname, it is possible to determine the parish in which the family lived. Each parish had its own parish churches, for instance, Lutheran or Catholic. On the basis of this, one can study the metrical books for the entries of those born and christened, those who died, those who entered into marriage, lists of parishioners of the community, etc.

The metrical book of those born and christened contained information on the place of residence of the parents, the class (peasant, labourer, etc.), the name of the father and mother, including the mother’s maiden name and the names of the witnesses. Witnesses (godparents) were usually brothers and sisters of parents or other relatives.

Thus, knowledge of the history of Latvia and the origin of Latvian surnames helps to conduct professional historical and genealogical research.

Terms of genealogical research

We divide the whole process of genealogical research into several stages, which are usually divided according to historical events. Each stage usually lasts 1-3 months.

Based on the results of the genealogical research, we draw up a Report with a description of historical and genealogical research, a genealogical tree of the family, and also attach photos of established documents, maps of populated areas, etc. to the report.

More detailed information about conducting genealogical research and the specifics of searching in the state archives of Latvia by family lines is provided to the customer individually.

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