Latvia Taxation Records

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What is a Revision List?[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In 1718, Tsar Peter the Great instituted a head/individual tax known as the “soul” tax. As a result, beginning in 1719, revision lists, or enumerations of the taxable population, were created to identify taxpayers.

There were ten revisions taken sporadically until the final revision in the late 1850s. Each revision could take several years to complete as reflected in the list below. Note that the first, second, and third revisions do not include Latvia. Livland/Vidzeme was included in revision lists for the first time in the fourth revision while Courland/Kurzeme was included in the fifth revision. There are few revisions for the Latgale region.[1]

  1. 1718-1719
  2. 1743-1747
  3. 1761-1767
  4. 1781-1787
  5. 1794-1808
  6. 1811 (incomplete due to Napoleonic wars)
  7. 1815-1825
  8. 1833-1835
  9. 1850
  10. 1857-1859

Because the tax system was that of a head/individual tax, all members of the household were listed (with the exception of the first, second, and sixth revisions which only included men).[2] Therefore, they are an important source for approximating vital events and creating family structures.

Why should I use them?[edit | edit source]

Aside from church records, revision lists (Ревизские Сказки) are some of the most important records for Latvian genealogical research. Like U.S. census records, these records list each member of the family, providing names, ages, and relationships. For this reason, they are essential for establishing family relationships, ages, and tracking a family over time.

Revision List Research Methodology[edit | edit source]

You should locate your family in every revision list in which they appear. This will help you form family structures and provide you with estimated birth, marriage, and death dates. It is best to work from the known to the unknown - to begin research in the latest revision available and then proceed backwards. Pay attention to family numbers as these will help you trace the family backwards in time.

Use revision lists in conjunction with metrical books. Using the ages listed in revision lists, you can calculate estimated birth, marriage, and/or death dates. Use this information to guide you in your research throughout metrical books. Keep in mind that revision lists are not always accurate - an age may be several years off when compared with the actual vital event date found in metrical books.

Prior to 1819, surnames were typically found only among the gentry, clergy and select craftsmen. In 1819, a law was passed that required peasants in the region of Vidzeme to adopt permanent surnames. New surnames continued to be adopted until as late as 1828.[3] Researchers should note that for this reason, research in the fifth, sixth, and seventh revision lists likely will not include surnames. Because of this, researchers will need to rely upon relationship vocabulary such as wife, son, daughter, etc. to determine family relationships.

The sixth revision did not enumerate women.

Accessing Revision Lists Using Raduraksti[edit | edit source]

The Latvian State Historical Archive's website, Raduraksti, contains digital images of revision lists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For instructions on how to access revision lists using Raduraksti, use the Raduraksti: Online Latvian Revision Lists "How to" Guide.

Reading Revision Lists Records[edit | edit source]

Revision lists from Latvia may be written in either German, Russian, Latvian or a combination of any of the above (ie. a document may have Russian column headings, but the information in the body of the record could be written in Latvian). Each of the sections below describes important resources corresponding to each language.

Russian Language Revision List Records[edit | edit source]

To learn how to read a Russian language revision list record, use the Reading Russian Revision Lists "How to" Guide. You may also want to consult these sources:

For help deciphering Russian handwriting, please see the following sources:

German Language Revision List Records[edit | edit source]

To learn how to read a German language revision list record, see the following "How to" Guide and article:

For help deciphering German handwriting, please see the following sources:

Latvian Language Revision List Records[edit | edit source]

Of the three language variations, Latvian is the least likely; however, you still may come across revision list records written in Latvian. Often these records will have column headings in either German or Russian with Latvian text recorded in the body of the document.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "How to Read Soul Revision Lists," Luse Genealogical Research Blog (1 March 2019),, accessed August 2020.
  2. "Ревизии (подушные переписи)," Архивное Дело,, accessed August 2020.
  3. Jansone, Ilga. "Consolidation of Surnames in Vidzeme (Latvia) during the First Half of the 19th Century: Origin, Semantics." Biblioteca Tecnica de Politica Linguistica, Els noms en la vida quotidiana. Actes del XXIV Congrés Internacional d’ICOS sobre Ciències Onomàstiques. Annex. Secció 7: 1589-1600;