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Address Books

What could be simpler than finding people in address books? But which address books and from which periods are available to us? And which people are mentioned in them?


traveller with books and maps looking down to a town
Created by DALL-E

You're in luck if your ancestors lived in Riga. As the largest and most significant city in Latvia, Riga has the most extensive collection of address books.


Various years' address books from the collection of the National Library of Latvia are available online. Unfortunately, the address books from the earlier periods are in German, so it's necessary to know what title to search for.


Go to the LNDB book collection and enter “Rigasches Adressbuch” in the search bar. The digital library's oldest Riga address book is from 1846, and up to World War I, the best address books are in German. They contain information about various institutions and organizations in Riga, as well as a directory of apartment and house owners.


Of course, it will be difficult to spot Latvians there, except those who have achieved a higher social status, have been educated, or have established their small businesses. For example, the 1846 book mentions a surveyor named Bersing (Bērziņš), who lived in his own house on Alexander (now Brīvības) Street. Also mentioned in the book is a carriage owner - Mr. J. Krasting (Krastiņš) and two traders named Lapin (Lapiņš). One had a warehouse with officer uniforms.


Excerpt from the address book

Closer to the turn of the century, there will be more Latvians in the address books, but still, only the important people are listed. Factory workers and maids are not found in these books.

 

Interwar period address books can be found by searching in Latvian for “Rīgas adresu grāmata”.

 

If you find what you're looking for in the German books, the next step is to check for changes in street names. Look for the list at Ciltskoki.lv > Palīgs> Rīgas ielu agrākie nosaukumi. (Help > Previous names of Riga streets).


Then, you can look for information in house books, if the necessary ones have survived. Some house books from the Russian Empire period (based on street names of that time) are available on the Raduraksti website. If you don't find what you're looking for there, it might not have been digitized yet and can only be viewed in person at the archive.


Interwar period house books (based on the street names of that period) can only be viewed in person at the History Archive. They are found in fund 2942, description 1. House books for other cities can be found in fund 2110.


Addresses can also be found in interwar period telephone subscriber lists. Such lists for several Latvian cities are available in the digital library.


Search results about telephone subscriber lists

If you want to find out not only the residents of a house but also the owners of the ground, then search for “gruntsgabalu un ielu saraksts” (plot and street lists). For Riga, such lists are available from 1934 and 1939. Knowing the land group and land numbers, you can also find specific building sites in the History Archive.

 

If you want to find the specific address in reality, remember that the numbering of many streets, for example, Brīvības Street, has been changed.



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