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How Did My Ancestors Live in 1935?

Last time, I wrote about the 1941 census, and for the sake of completeness, I'll also share information about the 1935 population census. What does it offer to your family tree?


winter landscape in Latvia

The 1935 census is the next chronological step to explore when delving into the past. One of the fundamental principles of genealogy is to start with the present and, following the thread, move backward in time.


The rationale behind this is simple—documents often contain references to earlier times, such as a person's birth or migration details. However, predictions about future events are not possible from historical documents.

 

If you find a document indicating a person's earlier place of residence, you know where to look for older records. But no one can predict when and where a person will move in the future. Therefore, it's always easier to follow known information and step back in time incrementally.

 

If you've found your ancestors in the 1941 census, you likely know where to look for them in 1935. Perhaps, a relative passed away before 1941, but they are still listed in the 1935 census. This can be a valuable addition to your family tree.


There are two types of records from 1935 census: household records and personal cards. In the first one, all household members are listed, but the personal cards are individual for each person.


Household Records


To find a household census card, you need to know the (civil) parish ("pagasts" in Latvian). Unfortunately, only a portion of these records is available on the FamilySearch.org website. To locate them, find the links on Ciltskoki.lv: Dokumenti> Dokumenti no FamilySearch > Tautas skaitīšana, 1935. (Documents > Document List from FamilySearch > Population Census, 1935)

 

If access to the information you seek is restricted, a visit to the Latvian State Historical Archives is necessary. The records are stored in fund 1308, description 12.

 

The 1935 census is interesting because it reveals additional information about households. You will learn:

 

  • Whether it was an old (founded before WWI) or new household (founded after the Agrarian reform of 1920s) and how many rooms it had.

  • The source of water for residents, often indicated as a well in rural areas, but sometimes from a stream or even a river.

  • Lighting sources used in the rooms, with the most common being a kerosene lamp.

  • The location of sanitary facilities, typically outside the farm. In rare cases, modern households already had indoor facilities.

 

The example shows a large old household with 6 rooms, and the sanitary facilities were inside the main building. The water source was a spring, not a well in this case.


1935 census card
Example of the 1935 census (Familysearch.org, LVVA)


Following the description of the household, there is a list of residents with key information:

 

  • Birth year (unfortunately, birth dates and places are not provided in these records).

  • Marital status.

  • Religion.

  • Nationality (ethnicity).

  • Occupation, allowing identification of hired laborers versus family members.

  • Relationships between household members are indicated, and the example below even includes a visitor: Zariņa Kristīne "had come as a guest."


1935 census record
1935 Household Record (Familysearch.org, LVVA)

Suppose you want to discover the birth dates and places of the found relatives. In that case, you need to turn to the personal cards from the 1935 population census.


Personal Cards


The search process is the same as before, but this time, choose “Tauta skaitīšana, 1935 (pers.kart.)” at the end.


Personal cards are organized by parishes and further by gender and nationality. To find, for example, Jānis Apsītis from the above example, you would need to select the "latvieši, vīrieši" (Latvians, males) of Drabeši parish.

 

Unfortunately, these cards are not alphabetically arranged, and on-site archival research may be required, as most cards are not viewable online.

 

However, you will gain additional intriguing information about individuals:

 

  • Birth date and place

  • Languages spoken.

  • Participation in World War I and Latvia's liberation war (for male)

  • Workplace and occupation.

 

For farmers, it's often mentioned that they work in agriculture with family members. In the example below, we learn that the person was a restaurant seller and earned additional income from a house.


1935 census personal card


1935 census personal card
Example of the 1935 census personal card (Familysearch.org, LVVA)

With this extra information, your family tree will become much more interesting. Therefore, it's worth dedicating additional time to search for ancestors in the population census records.

 

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