Ciltskoki Website

Finding Latvian Archival Records through the Ciltskoki Website

by Marion E. Werle

The Latvian website Ciltskoki (Family Trees) is indexing many archival records currently on FamilySearch. The website was founded by Egils Turss, and the background is described here (you will need to turn on the Translate feature of your browser, as the article is in Latvian).

The Ciltskoki website has a number of ongoing indexing projects focused on interwar passports, house registers, censuses, and other documents being digitized by FamilySearch. As documents are indexed, they are linked to the digital images on FamilySearch. Indexing is ongoing, so check the website frequently.

The Ciltskoki website is in Latvian, and as such, non-Latvian speakers will need to use the browser Translate function. As with the other websites, you need to set up a userid and password. Be aware, however, that you should switch back to Latvian before doing a search, as the “Enter” (Pāradīt - literally “show”) button may disappear on a translated screen.

Although the website is free, most of the useful functionality is now available in Ciltskoki Plus, which requires a donation. An activation code may be ordered by texting “DZIMTA” to number 1881 - there is a charge for the text, and it is likely more appropriate for Europeans with international texting plans. Otherwise email for payment via PayPal link. The fees are as follows, and time starts from when the access code is entered on the website:

1 day - €1.50

3 days - €3

7 days - €7

30 days - €20

Ciltskoki Plus

The homepage will prompt the user for an activation code - once it is entered, a generic search page will be displayed, which will search multiple collections at once.

This is the Latvian version of the page:

This is the English translation of the search screen - note that the "Enter" button is not functional on the translated screen:

There are wildcards and substitution characters that may be used during a search. The percent sign ( “%”) is used as a wildcard (either within a word or at the end) and an underscore (“_”) substitutes for a single character. If you use an underscore or multiple underscores within a name, you need to end it with a percent sign/wildcard. After the search, a list of categories will be displayed, with the number of hits to the right of each category. Hit the plus sign to expand the selection. Entering a partial surname without a wildcard will display surnames that either begin with or include the partial name, e.g., entering “Minsk” will find Kaminsky and Neminsky, but not necessarily the variations you want. Due to the endings in Latvian names, searching on “Minsk%” is more efficient.

Once the search is completed, a list of hits will appear. The categories, translated into English, are as follows:

One of the most useful searches on Ciltskoki is finding internal passport files, which are under the category of Personal Documents (Personas dokumenti). The Latvian internal passports on FamilySearch are roughly in alphabetical order, with each file having its own archival number, but the Latvian surname spellings are variable, and it is difficult to locate passports simply by browsing. The Ciltskoki search will also find married women with the maiden name of the surname being searched.

Unless you know exactly who you are searching for and how the name is spelled, you should do a surname (uzvārds) search. There are different endings for male and female surnames in Latvian – typically male names end with “s” and female surnames end with “a.” Under the Russian Empire, Jewish names were transliterated into Russian, and the same is the case for Latvian Jewish names. Some people also took “secular” names. Names and naming can be variable. For example, the large passport file of Iciks Roseins contains 92 frames and multiple documents, including his original Lithuanian foreign passport (Icikas Roseinas), his Riga passport issued by the German army in 1918 (Itsik Rossein), and a Russian pension-related document (Itzik Davidovitch Rossein).

If you know the exact surname spelling, enter it in the “uzvārds” field at the top of the form. If not, be creative with spellings, and/or use partial names/wildcards. In some cases, search results will not list a given name, so be sure to check all surname hits for potential family members. The names in the resulting search do not always match with the name in the first frame of the individual’s file. For example, “Rosein Itzik” below is actually filed under “Roseins Iciks,” using both the male suffix of “s” in Latvian, and the Latvian spelling of Isaac. Be flexible!

This is a partial listing of hits from a search for the surname “Ros_in%” - note that the two entries above Itzik Rosein do not show given names, yet they are both Itzik’s children (as indicated in the father’s name field):

Expand entries of interest by clicking on the plus sign next to the person’s name. When you click on the document icon on the lower right, it will take you to the digitized passport file on FamilySearch. You will need to sign into FamilySearch to view the files. For information on the passport files and their contents, see the introduction to the Latvia Internal Passport Database, 1919-1940.

You may also add a birth or residence place to your search.

The JewishGen Latvia Database also contains a collection of entries, both from passport application books and a selection of Jewish passports turned in to the Riga police. The translation of passport files and issuance books for JewishGen is an ongoing project. However, the vast majority of the Riga passport files has not yet been translated, and the indexing provided by the Ciltskoki volunteers is invaluable. As with any other indexes, they are not perfect and subject to human error, but overall, Ciltskoki indexes can be helpful in tracking your ancestors.

Other Documents

The free section of the Ciltskoki website has some passport issuance books indexed, although it is not comprehensive. The same holds true for other documents and censuses. There is a category “Miscellaneous (in process)” - Dažādi (procesā) - which has some portions indexed (e.g., Fonds 5213- pensions - and 3234 - foreign passports and citizenship), but originals need to be ordered from the Archives, as they are not digitized. There are also House Registers (Mājas grāmatas) in Fond 2942 (parts 1 -3), which are arranged in the archives by address. Ciltskoki has created spreadsheets for Riga and its districts, arranged by FamilySearch film number, and they have begun the process of assigning addresses to the films/digital files, although the spreadsheets are not complete.

Ciltskoki is a work in progress, and we will update this page as new information becomes available.