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Pension Files

Did anyone in your family work in public service? If they retired during the interwar period, you have the chance to find their pension records.


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Created by Dall-E

This week, I reviewed two pension files. In one case, the person had worked as a road master under the Ministry of Transport. In the other case, the person had been a colonel in the Latvian army. Both received state pensions and their files provided valuable additional information for the family history.


You will find your ancestor's pension file in the archives if they worked in a state or municipal institution, were an officer or war official in the Latvian army, a teacher, a clergyman, or worked in a state or municipal hospital.


What information can you find in a pension file?


  • Birth details

  • Education details

  • Information about family composition

  • Details about military service in the Latvian army

  • A detailed description of service history

  • Information about health status.


The description of service history is likely the most informative and valuable part of the pension file for a family researcher. It describes the person’s entire work life, including workplaces, vacations, sick leaves, salary, promotions, awards, and even health information.


Sometimes, other interesting details may be found. For example, one pension recipient requested to be exempted from the "bachelor tax" because he had recently married. The exact amount of this tax and the circumstances under which it was applied will need to be explained at another time.


In another case, I found indications that a pension recipient was dismissed from the Liepaja city council's sanitary department in 1934 (after Ulmaniss coup) for being considered politically unreliable. However, he was still granted a pension.


The family members of a deceased employee also received pensions. In one case, the pension recipient and family breadwinner had died, and the widow with children requested that her husband’s pension be granted to her.


From the files I reviewed, it seems that years of service during the Russian Empire were also included in the pension calculation.


Where to find pension files?


Pension files from the interwar period are stored in Fund 5213, named the Public Welfare Department of the Ministry of Public Welfare (Tautas Labklājības ministrijas Sabiedriskās aizgādības departaments) . This fund contains many different types of documents, not just pension allocation records. Here you can also find information about orphanages, children available for adoption, and institutions under the health department.


On the website Ciltskoki.lv > Various > Pensions, there is a database where you can check if your ancestor's pension file is stored in the archives. If you do not find it in the database, it is still recommended to check on-site at the Historical Archive.


Unfortunately, these files are not yet available in digital format. They are being digitized, and it is hoped that they will be viewable on Familysearch.org at some point, but that is not possible yet. Currently, with the fund, file, and description number from the Ciltskoki database, you need to go to the Latvian State Historical Archive.


The full text of the 1931 pension law can be read here (in Latvian), although there were later additions and amendments.

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