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Getting started with Latvian research
The first steps in getting started with Latvian research depend on what information you already know about your ancestors.
If your ancestor was born in Latvia prior to 1905, and you know where they were born, you can start immediately with religious records. These religious records are available online at the Latvian State Historical Archives' Raduraksti project. Records are available for Lutheran, Orthodox, Jewish, Baptist, Reformed, Old Believer, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic congregations.
If your ancestor was born in Latvian between 1906 and 1921, you will need to write to the Registry Office Archives of the Latvian Ministry of Justice to order a birth certificate.
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Latvian Jewish Records Now Online
The State Archives of Latvia is placing digitized images of Jewish vital records at their genealogy website. They include the towns of Aizputes, Bauskas, Daugavpils, Glazmankas, Grīvas, Grobiņas, Ilūkstes, Jaunjelgavas, Jēkabpils, Jelgavas, Kuldīgas, Liepājas, Ludzas, Maltas, Piltenes, Rēzeknes, Ribinišku, Rīgas, Sabiles, Saldus, Sasmakas, Skaistkalnes, Subates, Tukuma, Varakļānu, Ventspils, Viļakas and Višķu.
To use the site requires that a user first register. Go to the home page at http://www.lvva-raduraksti.lv/en.html and click Register in the upper right corner. Once registered, a shortcut directly to the Jewish (Rabināti) records is http://www.lvva-raduraksti.lv/en/menu/lv/7/ig/7.html. Click on the town of interest and a list by year and record type is displayed. Records are identified by type: dzimušie (birth), laulātie (marriage), mirušie (death), šķirtie (divorce). Select an appropriate year/type which will then display a cover page for the record group. Browse the digitized images by clicking the arrows in the upper right corner. There is a facility to zoom in on an image.
The project currently has more than 3.8 million images online of vital records of all faiths. Plans call for digitizing revision lists (censuses) of 18th–19th centuries (1782–1858), and those portions of the All-Russia census on 1897 that survived.
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