Autobiography Collection launched by the Archives of Latvian Folklore



In early 2018, the Archives of Latvian Folklore launched a new initiative—the Autobiography Collection with the aim of preserving and documenting the tradition of life writing of people living in Latvia. The Autobiography Collection is made up of materials people have written during various periods to document their own lives and the times in which they live. Mostly these are diaries, written life stories, memoirs, and letters, as well as various other materials providing complementary information—photographs, interviews with the authors, and their relatives’ stories about them.

The Autobiography Collection of the Archives of Latvian Folklore continues to grow actively. Anyone with a connection to Latvia is invited to submit materials, which can be done by contacting the collection curators. If the author/owner of the autobiographical material wants to keep the original, the material can be digitised at the Archives of Latvian Folklore, or at some other agreed-upon location. Once the materials have been digitised, they are returned to the owner.


International Folklore Festival Baltica – explore photos from 1988


BalticaOn June 16–21, the International Folklore Festival Baltica will take place in Latvia. The festival is a co–project of the three Baltic States. Festival, which brings together ethnographic ensembles, folklore groups, folk music groups, narrators, craftsmen and individual performers, happens every year, switching location between Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The theme for this year is The Solstice. Blossoming (

The first Baltica Festival took place in 1987, but in Latvia a year later – in 1988. Archives of Latvian folklore hold unique photos from the very first year of the festival in Latvia. Explore them here in the collection of Vaira Strautniece LFK [2184].

Phonograph Recordings included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Latvian National Register


Collection of the phonograph recordings (1926-1947) of the Archives of Latvian Folklore has been included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Latvian National Register.

In April 1926, two years after the foundation of the Archives of Latvian Folklore (ALF), the first Edison phonograph was purchased. In September of the same year, two more phonographs were acquired, both Excelsior models manufactured in Cologne, Germany.

The first phonograph recordings were made in 1926 by Anna Bērzkalne, the first Head of the ALF. The last recordings were completed during the field work session of the Folklore Institute carried out from June to September of 1947 in eastern Latvia. This was the last occasion when phonograph recordings were used by ALF.


Your time for Latvia!


In June, 2016, the Archives of Latvian Folklore in cooperation with "Latvia-100" (Centenary Office Latvia) and Radio Latvia opened a long lasting crowd-sourcing event for folklore manuscript transcription, called "Simtgades burtnieki" (Wizards of Centenary). Within the activity, we invite everyone to devote time for Latvia by transcribing folklore manuscripts thus safeguarding and making digitally available all kind of folklore held by the Archives of Latvian Folklore. Each minute spent by the Wizzards of Centenary within the digital platform is counted up. You are welcome to join!

Audio recordings online!



A selection of almost 5000 audio recordings of Archives of Latvian Folklore are made available online! Visit audio section to explore unique sounds, mainly folk songs and various stories, from all over Latvia and outside. 

Folklore collections from Kurzeme



May, 2015 was dedicated to the folklore collections from Kurzeme - the Western part of Latvia, mainly from the south-west corner of it, near Liepāja city. The largest part of the digitized collections from that region are the ones collected by school children during the interwar period:

  • Klostere Primary School LKF [6]
  • Otaņķi Primary School LFK [9]
  • Vecpils Primary School LFK [13]
  • Skrunda 2nd Primary School LFK [103]
  • Bāte Primary School LFK [466]
  • Liepāja City 2nd Primary School LFK [576]
  • Basi Primary School LFK [1158]
  • Vanga Primary School LFK [1191]
  • Lēni Primary School LFK [1227]
  • Sieksāte Primary School LFK [1231] and LFK [1232]
  • Tadaiķi Primary School LFK [1706]
  • Aizviķi Primary School LFK [1709]
  • Liepāja Commercial School LFK [1715]

The collection of Liepāja Institute of Pedagogy, LFK [1921], contains bright examples of Soviet folklore, collected in Alsunga parish in 1955, whereas folklore collections of Miķelis Zvirbulis [43], Milda Rolmane [133] and Alvīne Ģeistaute [192] include folklore materials, collected in Rucava parish during the interwar period.

Folklore of national minorities of Latvia



The Archives of Latvian Folklore hold five remarkable folklore collections of Latvian national minorities. All of them are published online in the Digital Archive of Latvian Folklore:

Workshop on folklore collections of national minorities of Latvia



Workshop on folklore collections of national minorities of Latvia held by Archives of Latvian Folklore will take place on Friday, April 10 in National Library of Latvia (Mūkusalas street 3, Riga). In the workshop, the folklore collections of Latvian Belarus, German, Russian, Roma, Jew and other national minorities will be presented, along with the digital archive of Latvian folklore More information:

Johann Gottfried von Herder's Collection of Latvian Folksongs



The manuscript of Latvian folksongs and their translations into German, the collection of Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803). The manuscript is published in collaboration with Berlin State Library and National Library of Latvia.

Folklore collections of Northern Latgale



  • Folklore collection of Cipriāns Apšenieks in Bērzpils, ALF [190]
  • Folklore collection of Viestura State Primary School near Viļaka, ALF [380]
  • Folklore collection of Marija Dekšņa in Rugāji, ALF [461]
  • Folklore collection of Zeļči (Upīte) Primary School, ALF [691]
  • Folklore collection of Krišjāņi Primary School, ALF [1219]
  • Folklore collection of Paulis Svenne in Purvmala, ALF [536]
  • Folklore collection of Pakrava Primary School, ALF [886]

Folklore of Latvian Jews



The collection of Latvian Jews' folklore collected by Girša Etkin is added to Submitted to archives in 1946. In total 500 folklore units, mainly proverbs and sayings. Manuscript [1791].

Latvian Roma folklore



The collection of Latvian Roma folklore collected by Jānis Leimanis included in the database. Manuscript [1389]: 500 folklore units, 1094 manuscript images. Roma language materials are provided with interlinear Latvian translation.

Folklore collection of Herder Institute in Riga



Folklore collection of Herder Institute in Riga included in the database. Submitted in 1939 by Lutz Mackensen. Languages: German and Estonian. Manuscript [1825].

Belarusian folklore in Latvia



The outstanding collection of Belorusian folklore in Latvia collected by Sergey Saharov is available online in The collection [1561] includes 2793 folklore units and 787 manuscript images.

Folklore of Russians in Latvia



Folklore materials of Latvian Russians collected by Ivan Fridrih are added to the database. Manuscript [1195]: 759 folklore units, 1250 manuscript images.

Folklore collection of Dūre Primary School



Folklore collection of Dūre Primary School, located near Lejasciems parish in Northern Latvia included in the database. Manuscript [118], 79 manuscript files.

Folklore collection of Mīlītes Primary School



The very first registered manuscript of Archives of Latvian Folklore included in the database. Folklore collection of Mīlītes Primary School in Bauņi parish. Manuscript [1].

"Cabinet of Folksongs"


Dainu skapis

Latvian folksong texts and manuscript images of Krišjānis Barons' Cabinet of Folksongs (Dainu skapis) had been added to Thus the  data base is enlarged by 172779 folksong units. The digital version of the Cabinet of Folksongs is available since 2002, see

Explore the collections

Collection of Latvian Charms



The Collection of Latvian Charms LFK [150], gathered from various places around Latvia, were submitted to the Archives of Latvian Folklore mostly in the 1920s and 1930s; a number of exhibits were also contributed after 1991. The collection consists mainly of original, small-format, handmade books, or also a copy or transcript of the original. The collection also includes compilations of charms submitted separately, and folk medicine recipes with instructions on how to use them.


Collection of memory albums



Memory albums, also called autograph albums or school notebooks, belong to the traditions of folk writings. They are created as souvenirs, the purpose of which is to retain the written evidence of people (friends and acquaintances) met by the album’s owner during a certain period of his or her life. An album entry usually consists of a dedication text (album rhyme, literary aphorism, proverb etc.), the writer’s signature and often also an illustration. Memory albums came into Latvian society from the German culture in the second half of the 19th century, and during the 20th century became particularly popular among schoolchildren.

The oldest fragments of memory albums at the Archives of Latvian Folklore date back to the 1880’s and are found in the collection of the local historian Jānis Kučers [1742]. The albums collected during the Soviet period in the folklore expeditions all around Latvia, can be found in the materials of these expeditions. A special collection of memory albums [2121] was started in 2000 on the basis of the material gathered and studied by Baiba Krogzeme-Mosgorda for her doctoral thesis (2005) and later for her monograph on the album tradition of Latvian schoolchildren (2013). Nowadays the collection [2121] consists of 55 memory albums, of which the oldest is from 1900, but the newest was written in 1999. Almost all of them have belonged to schoolchildren – mainly girls. The majority was created in Riga, but some regions of Latvia are represented, as well.

"Suiti" folklore materials digitised


Suitu sievas

Several folklore collections from Latvian Suiti* region have been digitised and are made available in the digital archives of Latvian Folklore Most of these folklore collections have been collected in 1930s. Suiti school materials include collections from Jūrkalne [LFK 954] and Basi [LFK 1158] elementary schools. Musicologist Emilis Melngailis has collected musical material in Suiti region [LFK 1045] and musicologist Andrejs Krūmiņš [LFK 1824] has written down such folklore genres as folk songs, folk games, folk dances and traditional customs.

Notable amount of folklore was collected in 1957 when folklore expedition took place in regions of Aizpute and Kuldīga [LFK 1935]. Suiti folklore was collected also in folklore expedition that took place in Liepāja region in 1961 [LFK 1955].

Suiti ethnographic groups were photographed by Vaira Strautniece, and audio recordings from performance "Suiti wedding" can be found in the digital archives as well.


"Suiti" is small Latvian Catholic community inhabiting the "Suiti region" with its 2800 inhabitants living on 402 square kilometers in the Western part of Latvia. Suiti Cultural Space is a unique example of European intangible cultural heritage which since 2009 has been inscribed on UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.


Folk music materials of Emilis Melngailis


Emilis Melngailis publishes the collection of folk music materials, collected by Emilis Melngailis between 1899 to 1943. ALF manuscript register number [1045].

The first of the outstanding Latvian folk melody collectors and editors was Jurjānu Andrejs (1856-1922). The material collected by him was published in six brochures/binders “Latvju tautas mūzikas materiāli” (“The Latvian Folk Music Materials”; 1894-1926). This edition was started the same year as “Latvju dainas” (1894-1915) of Krišjānis Barons (1835-1924) and completed several years after the collector's death. Also the manuscripts of Jurjāns are kept by ALF.

Emilis Melngailis is the most prominent from the folk music collectors of the next generation. He studied music in Dresden and St. Petersburg. In his collecting efforts he travelled Latvia and Lithuania, also writing down the melodies of other ethnic groups (like the Jews (he designates them 'Hebrew'), and the Livonians – the people that once gave the name to the territory that is now known as Latvia). Emilis Melngailis also took photos of his informants and their environment. The material collected by him were published in the three volumes of the book “Latviešu mūzikas folkloras materiāli” (The Materials of Latvian Musical Folklore) : in 1951 Korsa (the western part of Latvia) with 1,326 melodies, in 1952 Maliena (the eastern part) with 1,676 and in 1953 Vidiena (the midlands) with 1,153 melodies, appendix and an endnote with an interesting motto: It is not possible to tell the depth without wading in.


Collection of illustrations


Emīlija Celmiņa in Lielvārde, 1950

The LFK collections contain ethnographic drawings and photographs, featuring various household items, architectural details and structures as a whole, property marks, some maps, charts, as well as ornamental designs for embroidery and knitting. 


Roma folklore materials


Roma folklore

The most outstanding collection of Latvian Roma material - 500 folkloric items in 75 volumes - was recorded by Jānis (Bernis) Leimanis (1886-1950) in 1920-30's. Leimanis' manuscript [1389] is particular for two reasons - it widely represents less known Roma folklore and all of the materials are supplied with a Latvian translation.



This website provides you with an opportunity to view a material collection of the Archives of Latvian Folklore:

The digital archive is enlarged regularly — follow the news!

You are invited to