Ciltskoki Website

Finding Latvian Archival Records through the Ciltskoki Website

by Marion E. Werle

Note: Due to recent changes in the Ciltskoki website, the information below is no longer current. There are two levels of coverage, general, and name search, the latter of which requires a paid access code. We will update the website shortly to reflect the changes and new screen layouts. (21 September 2021)

The Latvian website Ciltskoki, (Family Trees) has begun the process of 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, and other documents being digitized by FamilySearch. As documents are indexed, they are linked to the digital images. Indexing is ongoing, so check the website frequently.

The Ciltskoki website is in Latvian, and as such, you will need to use the Translate function of your browser. As with the other websites, you need to set up a userid and password. Be aware, however, that the “Enter” key doesn’t always work (especially for signon) in a language other than Latvian, so you may need to switch back to Latvian before hitting “Enter”

The website is free, and as such, is filled with advertising – it is easy to click on ads if you aren’t careful.

Internal Passports (Pases)

One of the most useful searches on Ciltskoki is finding internal passport files. Although the Latvian internal passports on FamilySearch are roughly in alphabetical order, with each file having its own archival number, the Latvian surname spellings are variable, and it is difficult to locate passports simply by browsing. Ciltskoki allows searches either by full surname (uzvards) or partial – no wildcard asterisk (*) is needed. The partial search will find surnames that either begin with or include the partial name. The search will also find married women with the maiden name of the search term. Note that the JewishGen Latvia Database also contains a collection of entries from passport application books as well as a limited selection of Jewish passports turned in to the Riga police. The latter collection includes people originally from Jekabpils, and many details from the passport files have been translated and extracted. However, the vast majority of the Riga passport files has not been translated, and the indexing provided by the Ciltskoki volunteers is invaluable. In some cases, search results will not list a given name, so be sure to check all entries of a given surname for potential family members.

This is the Ciltskoki home page after signing in:

In the second row from the top, select “Pases” (passports) to bring up the search screen.

Unless you know exactly who you are searching for (and how the name is spelled), you should do a surname (uzvārds) search. Be aware that there are different endings for male and female surnames – 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. The point is that 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” section of the form. If not, be creative with spellings, and/or use partial names. For example, to search for the surname “Rosin” and its variants, if you enter “Ros” in the surname field, you will get 93 screens full of data, ranging from “Ābele (Groskopfa ) Emīlija” (“ros” imbedded in the maiden name), to “Zvejniece (Doroškeviča ) Helēna.” You can jump forward to the "Rs" - the listing of Rosin-related spellings doesn’t show up until screen 68, BUT, it provides all the variants of the surname over multiple screens. Here is the first page (68):

Here are additional entries a few pages later:

Not all of the entries show first names, but be sure to click on the image anyway, as it may be for a family member who was not correctly indexed.

When you click on the document icon on the right, it will take you to the digitized passport file on FamilySearch. For information on the passport files and their contents, see the introduction to the Latvia Internal Passport Database 1919-1941.

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

Other Documents

The Ciltskoki website is constantly evolving, and sometimes the descriptions are useful. For example, searching under “Dokumenti” with the search term for the town (pilsēta) of Liepaja identifies certain groups of 1935 personal cards as belonging to Jewish women. It is likely that the comments were put there as part of an inventory that the indexers have made. None of these documents yet have a name index, however, although a manual search of the files may turn up family members.

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