Included here are samples of available records, links to archives, and a few Sabile documents and directories. I’ve also posted additional links to guides and resources for Courland in general. If you have information about additional records and how to obtain them, please contact me.
Archives and Databases
- JewishGen Latvia Database – This is perhaps the best place to start. Volunteers are continuously indexing records to make them accessible through the JewishGen website.
- National Archives of Latvia – Many of the records from the Latvian State Historical Archives are online here. They are not indexed and can be a challenge to work through, but there is a lot there. As of 2021, the archives staff was no longer accepting research requests. If you have additional information about current access to these records, please contact me.
- Ciltskoki Website – This Latvian website is indexing records from the Latvian Archives with the help of volunteers. They have links to FamilySearch records from Sabile, including 1935 Census cards and passport records. Indexing has started on some of these record groups. More information about the website and how to use it is available from the JewishGen Latvia and Estonia Research Division.
- FamilySearch – This free site is the main online location for most original records, but for the most part they are not indexed here. Links from JewishGen and Ciltskoki will help you locate the appropriate records, as they are not well organized at this time. Vital records can be found here.
Below are details and examples of the most common and useful records for research into Sabile families. Additional records are housed at the National Archives of Latvia, but may not be readily accessible at this time. Aleksandrs Feigmanis is a researcher-for-hire who has written for Avotaynu. He may be able to locate additional records.
Vital Records – Many birth, marriage and death records for Sabile have survived from the 19th-century, beginning in 1859. They are preserved in the National Archives of Latvia, have been filmed by FamilySearch, and have been indexed by JewishGen. The easiest way to access them is by first using the JewishGen index. Though the record links do not work at this time, the record number in the far right column of the index can be used to locate the original record in the collection at FamilySearch. A recent update from the archives indicates that more vital records have been added to their collection from the early 20th-century. These birth, marriage and death records fall between 1907 and 1914, but are not yet digitized or indexed. The records are in German, Russian and Hebrew script. A guide to navigating and translating a birth record can be found here.
Revision Lists – The Russian revision lists are among the most useful documents available for genealogical research in Latvia. They date from 1858 and earlier, with some Jewish families appearing in the late 1700’s. IMPORTANT NOTE: Families appear in the lists according to where they were originally registered, so they will probably NOT appear in Zabeln, but in a nearby town, such as Goldingen or elsewhere. The lists have not been indexed, to my knowledge, but are available both through the National Archives of Latvia and through FamilySearch. A guide to using the records through the Latvian Archives website is available here from FamilySearch. These documents are mainly in German and Russian script.
1935 Latvian Census – If you had family still living in Sabile in 1935, the 1935 census records can provide a wealth of information. The records are held in the National Archives of Latvia and are partially available online through FamilySearch. At this time, only one of the LDS films that contain the Sabile records is available online. Each census record contains a family card, listing the members of the family and the dwelling information. Each individual, then, has an individual card with more detailed information about occupation, languages spoken, religion, and more. The 1941 Latvian Census is now available from FamilySearch, but has not yet been indexed. It is unclear when in 1941 this Census was taken and whether any Jews were enumerated. These records are written in Latvian.
Latvia Internal Passports – For those still living in Latvia between 1919 and 1941, internal passports were issued to those over the age of 16. You can find them in the catalog under “Latvia, Riga – Emigration and Immigration.” They are at least partially indexed on the Ciltskoki website, and are currently being indexed by JewishGen. A guide to these records is available from JewishGen. Though the guide does not list Passport books for nearby Talsi at this time, they do exist and are housed at the National Archives of Latvia. Both index books and individual passport documents can be found. Virtually all records contain photographs. These records are written in Latvian.