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Latvian belongs to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family and is related to Lithuanian. It was written in the Gothic script until the early 20th century when Roman script was adopted. While ethnic Latvians obviously speak their mother tongue, only a quarter of the ethnic Russian minority are fluent in Latvian. Being subject to German or Russian rule, most of the genealogical sources for the pre-1918 period are in German or Russian. After Latvian independence was achieved in 1920, Latvian became the language of the records.
For word lists and help researching in Latvian records, see:
- 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.