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Six suggestions if you can't find a baptismal record

Updated: Apr 5

This week, I had the chance to delve into the records of Mazsalaca Lutheran Church, and twice was not able to find the baptismal record I needed right away.

Postcard with a view to church
View of Mazsalaca church (

All family researchers are grateful and happy when they see the parish they are interested in among the indexed lists on

These are alphabetical lists where you can quickly locate a baptismal record on the Raduraksti site. The lists are compiled by volunteer helpers.

In my case, I was looking for the surname Gīga, and I saw that Mazsalaca parish lists have the surname Ģīga. It could be the same surname Gīga, but the person I am looking for is not on the Ciltskoki lists.

The way surnames were recorded in the 19th and even in the 20th century could vary greatly; scribes wrote them down based on their understanding and knowledge.

Knowing this, I decided to check the scanned church book since I knew the date on which the person was born

And there he was - the surname was written as Jīga (Jihga)! And you also find Jīga in Ciltskoki' lists.

Surname in handwriting

In my experience, historical documents very often use "J" and "G" to represent the same sound. In a previous post, I wrote about the Jeksti farm, which was written as Gexte in older documents.

Similarly, while researching the Mazsalaca area, I came across the Jēņi farm, written in the revisions as Jehņe, Jähne, and Gähne. In one revision, Kalne Jähne and Leies Gähne are listed next to each other.

Vārds rokrakstā

Vārds rokrakstā

The other piece of advice I can give from my Mazsalaca research is that if a parish book is missing on the Raduraksti site, it's worth checking the resources at

FamilySearch is a genealogical document repository created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has document copies from all over the world, including many from Latvia. Some are document copies from the Latvian archives.

There are also copies of documents photographed by the German-Balts in Latvian archives in 1939-1940 when they were preparing for repatriation. These microfilms are stored in the German archives, but digital copies are available on FamilySearch.

How to search on Familysearch?

In this case, I searched using the German name of the place - Salisburg. When I search by the Latvian name - Mazsalaca, the search engine provides different results, not the church books

Screenshot of Familysearch

To summarize, here are some more reasons why you may not find a baptismal record:

  1. The spelling of the surname may differ from the one you are familiar with.

  2. The date of birth you know is on the new calendar, but the baptismal record has to be searched for on the old calendar date (a difference of 12 or 13 days).

  3. Sometimes the baptism took place much later than the date of birth.

  4. Maybe the person belonged to a different faith, and you need to look for a church of a different faith.

  5. People from the same parish could belong to different parishes. For indications of which parishes people belonged to, see>Palīgs.

  6. If you do not find the church book you are looking for on Raduraksti, check Familysearch.

What are your suggestions for those who cannot find baptismal records?



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