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Alumni Records

Were your parents or grandparents students? If they studied during the interwar period, then search for their alumni records.


Excerpt from a student application

It is rare for Latvians to have ancestors who attended university before World War I. However, many Latvians studied at universities during the interwar period. Alumni records can be partially found online, while others are available in the reading rooms at the Latvian State Historical Archive.


Start by checking the University of Latvia's student database online. It is only in Latvian. When searching by surname, Latvian diacritical marks must also be used.


There, you will find the most important information:


  • Birth year and place,

  • Study period,

  • Which faculty did they study in, and what was their field of study?

  • Which high school did the student graduate from?

  • Is there a photograph in the file? (Usually, these files contain student photos, often from different periods).


Finally, the fund, description, and file number will be indicated. The original files are stored in the Latvian State Historical Archive, and with these three numbers, you can order and view the file in the archive.


Screenshot from Student database

However, most of the files can also be viewed online at Familysearch.org.


To explain how to find a file on Familysearch.org, I will use the file of Vladimirs Kļaviņš as an example. Note the file number 7427-1-19179.


  1. Log in to Familysearch.org,

  2. Click Search> Catalog,

  3. Choose Keywords and enter the fund-description-file number.


Screenshot from Familysearch.org

4. From the list, select Latvia, Riga, School records 1919-1940: Student files, 1919-1944.


Screenshot from Familysearch.org

A list of alumni files will open, among which you must find your desired number. It's a bit tricky, but possible!


Click on the camera icon on the right side, and the digital file will open. You may not see the icon for some files, meaning they are not available, possibly due to data protection restrictions.


Screenshot from Familysearch.org

Usually, the first page of the file is the student's application to be admitted to the university.


Then follows a transcript of the baptism record, passport copy, high school diploma. Male may have documents about compulsory military service.


There might also be medical certificates indicating that the potential student does not suffer from infectious diseases. Back then, it was especially important to check for tuberculosis.


The alumni file also includes transcripts about the courses taken.


Sometimes, I have seen requests for exemption from tuition fees, explaining the family's dire financial situation.


In short, alumni records are a valuable source of various information for all genealogists.


On Familysearch.org, you can only view University of Latvia alumni files, but in the archive, you can also search for files from other Latvian universities.


Vladimirs Kļaviņš, whose file I used as an example this time, was the leader of the resistance organization “Tēvijas Sargi” (Eng. Guards of the Fatherland). I recently worked on a criminal case where dozens of university students were convicted and later shot bu the Soviet Regime. They resisted the Soviet occupation in 1940-1941. The “Tēvijas sargi” was researched by the historian Jānis Viļums, and it is briefly outlined in this article in “Latvijas Avīze” (Article is in Latvian).


 

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