Latvia Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Latvia, go to the Religious Records page.

Metrical books

Research use: Uniquely identify individuals and connections of those in one generation to the next.

Record type: Church records kept by parish priests of births/baptisms, marriages, and deaths/burials. The term is also used to refer to the records of denominations that had jurisdictions other than parishes.

General: The Church acted as both a religious and civil agent in recording vital events and church sacraments such as baptism and burial. The traditional Christian faith of Latvia is Lutheran. There were substantial groups of Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox; and smaller groups of Jews, Old Believers, and Baptists. The priest/rabbi made a transcript for the ecclesiastical court (dukhovnaia konsistoriia) having jurisdiction. Jewish transcripts were filed with the local town council (gorodskaia duma). Old Believer and Baptist transcripts were sent to the provincial administration (gubernskoe upravlenie). The distinction between the original and the transcript is often ignored by Latvian record keepers.

Time period: Evangelical/other Protestant, 1608 (transcripts begin in 1833); Orthodox, 1722; Roman Catholic, 1613 (transcripts begin in 1826); Jews, 1835; Old Believers, 1874; Baptists, 1879–all to 1949.

Contents: Names of the person and other family members, residence, relationships, dates and place of birth and baptism, marriage, death and burial. Baptisms include names of godparents; marriages include the ages of the bride and groom; burials include the age of the deceased and cause of death.

Location: State Historical Archive in Riga; Civil Registry Archive, Riga (later records).

Percentage in Family History Library: 35%. Approximately 1,200 vols. of Lutheran church records were filmed in 1940 and acquired in 1994 by the Library from the Zentralstelle für Genealogie in Leipzig. However, the left and right hand pages were filmed separately, limiting their usefulness.

Population coverage: 70% coverage for early periods, 90% from about 1830 through the 1940s when civil registration began, 50% among minority religions and dissident groups such as Old Believers and Baptists.

Reliability: High.[1]


  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Latvia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1995-2002.