For those who don’t know me, let me take a minute to introduce myself. Professionally, I’ve been working as an orchestral violinist for more than thirty years. But for even longer, I’ve been pursuing my family history. Having seen printed genealogies for my mother’s side of the family, I was inspired while I was still in college to record what information my father’s relatives could tell me. Before I knew it, I was hooked. Although I’ve researched with varying intensity over the years, the pursuit of family stories and the angle genealogical research brings to learning history have continued to be my passion.

Why the Website and Blog?

More than twenty years ago, I created my first genealogy websites. Among them were “ShtetlLink” sites for Sassmacken, Talsen and Tukums. They were part of my foray into HTML coding and website creation back in the early days of such things. I kept them up for several years, connecting with numerous researchers from those three towns, but as I began raising two children, I let the website slide and eventually disappear.

Why bring them back now? I decided to focus just on Sassmacken/Valdemarpils and Talsen/Talsi. I want to share what I’ve found – on and offline – and connect with others with family from these two towns. Since I created my first sites, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Latvia again and have heard from others who have visited as well. And much more has become available online – documents, indices, videos – that is of interest to folks from this area. For the most part, my motivation is the same as it was originally – to share stories and information, and to connect with other Talsi and Valdemarpils descendants.

Another thing that intrigues me about this “new” format – compared to twenty years ago – is the ability to receive comments about posts, photographs and more. And I hope to involve others as guest bloggers so that we can share a variety of stories, research and travel accounts from these towns. Of course there’s a risk, but I look forward to hearing from more people this way. Don’t hesitate to let me hear from you!

A Word About Organization

To utilize a single site account, I’ve housed both Talsi and Valdemarpils under “My Courland Towns.” There are a few additional advantages to this besides saving me subscription dollars. First, many families have origins in both towns. They are less than 15 km apart. And second, it gives me an opportunity to share several Courland resources I’ve collected and had translated over the years. So clicking on “Home” will get you to the Courland page.

For each of the towns, I’ve arranged material into several categories. The main town page also serves as the “Description and Travel” page, with maps and links to travel sites. The “History” page includes a brief Jewish history of the town and a list of links for further reading. “Pictures” and “Cemetery” are pretty much self-explanatory. “Records” is a guide to the various records available for the town, with sources, examples, and hints for locating. “Families” includes links to information about and photographs of specific families, contributed by descendants of Sassmacken and Talsen. This is also the place for “mystery photos” waiting to be identified. At the moment, “Holocaust” includes records from 1941, information about the fate of the Jewish communities, and links for more information. In the future, I may begin an online memorial for the victims from these towns. If you are interested in contributing to this, please contact me.

Please Help

Do you have any photographs or documents from Talsi or Valdemarpils? Would you consider writing about your family’s story or travel experience? Are you interested in helping with a Holocaust memorial for your town?

One of the advantages of this format is the ability to involve others as guest bloggers and contributors. I’d love to make this as much a community as possible, so the more descendants we can enlist, the better. Please spread the word to others, and let me know if there’s something I can do to make the site better. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

2 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. My name is Ilana Ivanova, nee Zivcon. My paternal grandmother Sara Zivcon was originated from the Karshtadt( Karshtedt) family from Talsen, Tukumn and Kandau( now Kandava). Do you have any old photographs?


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