Unfortunately, vital records prior to 1905 have not survived for Talsi. But there are still documents to be found for these families. Included here are samples of available records, links to archives, and a few Talsi 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 all 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 indexed passport records and many other 20th-century records from Talsi. More information about the website and how to use it is available from the JewishGen Latvia and Estonia Research Division.
- As of 2003, the Registry Office in Talsi held vital records from 1922 through 1940. I can not confirm that the records are still there. The address is Talsi Registrar, Registry Office, Liela iela 25, Talsos, Talsu novada, LV-3201, Latvia. They have a website as well. If you have any further information, please contact me.
- Martha Lev-Zion Genealogy Papers, at the Center for Jewish History – Sasmaken Talsen, 1937-2002
Below are details and examples of the most common and useful records for research into Talsi 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 – Unfortunately, vital records for Talsi prior to 1906 have not survived. In a recent inventory update, the National Archives of Latvia has listed death records from Talsi from 1915 as part of its collection. At this time, they have not been digitized or indexed. Vital records from 1922 through 1940 may be available through the Registry Office in Talsi (see above).
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 Talsen, but in a nearby town, such as Tukkums 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.
1897 All-Russian Census – These records have been indexed by JewishGen and are available for Talsi and other area towns. Original records can be viewed on FamilySearch and at the National Archives of Latvia website. Mark Sebba has also provided a name index for Talsi and a guide to locating the records on the Archives site. The links from the JewishGen index to the archives are not completely functional at this time, but it’s still possible to use the record numbers listed in the index to assist in locating the original document. These records are written in Russian script.
1935 Latvian Census – If you had family still living in Talsi in 1935, the 1935 census records can provide a wealth of information. The records are held in the National Archives of Latvia and available online through FamilySearch. They are not indexed at this time, but the Latvian website, Ciltskoki, has begun this process and has some links posted. More information about using this website can be found at the JewishGen Latvia and Estonia Research Division Website. 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. These records are available through FamilySearch. 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 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.
- Excerpt from Directory, 1892/93 – Kurlandische Verkehr und Adresbuch
- List of Eligible Duma Voters in Talsi, 1907
- Excerpt from 1912 Directory – Baltische Verkehrs- und Adressbucher, Kurland, by Adolf Richters
- 1924 Telephone Directory
- 1937 Telephone Directory
- 1940 Telephone Directory – from Genealogy Indexer