Exhibition and series of video stories 'Family Book'

A series of video stories about 12 Latvian families and the family heirloom owned by them – books; and a travelling exhibition that reveals the emotional stories of Latvian families and connects generations through the ages.

The exhibition was available to the visitors from January to June 2020 at the National Library of Latvia, Liepāja Latvian Society House, and Latgale Embassy GORS in Rēzekne. A series of video stories about the books exhibited in the exhibition and the families of their owners can be seen below.

Kozulis Family Book
'The memories of a Simple Man' (2015)

'The memories of a Simple Man' is a thrilling story that passes through generations. Unbeknownst to anyone, this book was created over five years, bringing together 5,800 people from eight generations. Written in a diary format, the author describes his childhood, study years and his love, giving a glimpse of his life-long experience. The Kozulis family has its roots in Preiļi County - Punduriene, which holds beautiful memories and unites more than one and a half hundred relatives from grandfathers’ Janis Kozulis' seven children and their families.

Siliņš Family Book
'The Walker of Ones’ Own Path' (2019)

'The Walker of Ones’ Own Path' tells the story of Matīss Siliņš - the first Latvian cartographer, ethnographer and active cultural worker - and his contribution to Latvia. Matīss Siliņš represented the New Latvians and helped build up the confidence of the Latvian people in the 19th century by creating the first detailed map of Latvia, mentioning the name of the unestablished Latvia, and assisting Krišjānis Barons to compile Latvian folk-songs. His talents and outstanding working abilities continue in the descendants of the Silini family: artists, mathematicians, teachers, architects, doctors, biologists and lawyers.

Dobele Family Book
'Boy from Gramzda' (2012)

Arvīds Dobelis has been working on the book 'Boy from Gramzda' for ten years, describing several generations of the Dobele family and the course of their lives, as well as the first 26 years of his life, when Latvia experienced five different state systems. The detailed descriptions give everyone an idea of what life in the countryside of Kurzeme was like in the first half of the 20th century and how people's lives were affected by the whirlwind of events of that time. The origins of the family can be traced back to 1716, when for the first time the large Dobele family living in Mazgramzda manor is noted in the church books.

Ansviesuļi-Egļi Family Book
'Two Conversations' (2018)

'Two Conversations' tells the true events experienced by family men. The first Conversation tells about the lives of World War I refugees in far-away Russia, survival in times of turmoil, and hopes for a return. The second Conversation leads to another war that drags a young boy in the whirlwind of events which force him to reach his 18th birthday at a filtration camp in Georgia. The book reveals how the fate of one family can reflect the history of the whole of Latvia.

Vesmanis Family Book
'Listen to the Steps of the Past' (2013)

The book of Vesmanis Family was written by Friedrich Vesmanis, Chairman of the First Saeima of the Republic of Latvia and diplomat. The manuscript dates back to the first half of the 20th century, but has been carefully hidden until the restoration of Latvia's independence. The book, published five years ago, is a shortened version of Friedrich Vesmanis' chronicle. It is a unique testimony of the era, which gives an insight into the history not only of the Vesmanis family, but of Latvia as a whole.

Rudovičs Family Book
'Catholic Prayers and Songs' (1945)

After an injury during World War II, the Latvian Anton Rudovičs came to Germany, where he purchased a prayer book in 1945 in Latgalian called 'Catholic Prayers and Songs'. It gave him the strength to survive in a strange, foreign land, and followed him even to far-off America, where he spent the rest of his life. Before his death, Anton asked to bring his greatest treasure to his native home “Korkli” in Padole Parish, where he himself was not destined to return. The book has been kept in honour for 29 years, and the dirty covers of it show how important it has been to its owner.

Ketners Family Book
'L. van Beethoven's Overture to four-string piano interpreted by Hugo Ulrich' (1840 - 1860)

‘Music is the greatest of the arts because it has the most powerful and lasting impact on people,’ said Ernests Ketners. When he passed away, family members found a record of life events and a music note book by composer Hugo Ulrich in his belongings, now a treasure of the Ketners family. The notation book was published in the mid-19th century, and one can only imagine how many talented musicians had it in their hands.

Pošiva Family Book
'Regards' (2017- currently)

'Regards' is one of the four books about the Pošiva family. Its contents are created by people who were of great importance to the family and inspired with their strength and wisdom - the book summarizes their reflections, wishes for the family and testimonies of the times. The idea of creating Pošiva family book came from the realization that with the passing of time, people and their unique stories passed away with it. Thanks to the dedication of family members, the Pošiva family tree, the Regards book, and three other family books were created, bringing more than 1,300 relatives together. It is a 'well' from which children and grandchildren will be able to draw strength.

Mālmanis Family Book
'Mālmanis Family Book' (2001)

'Mālmanis Family Book' covers the Mālmanis family ancestry from 1600 to 1938. Thanks to the dedication of their descendants, the book was later supplemented with information up to the year 2000. It contains not only the story of the wide circle of Mālmanis, but also the surroundings and life of Rūjiena at different periods of Latvian history. Mālmanis' fate has been both harsh - with authority changes, deportations, loss of relatives – as well as generous, bringing joy to the meeting and satisfaction.

Bīriņš Family Book
The Bible (1898)

The most important book and greatest treasure of the Bīriņš family is the Bible, passed down from generation to generation, in 1898. Therein lies the power of the Bīriņš family – with just a light touch of the Bible, one can feel the spirit of the ancestors and seek joy and endurance in even the most difficult moments of life. This Bible has gone through a lot, just like the Bīriņš Family. In order to get to know this family relic, all Bīriņš children and grandchildren have learned to read in old print.

Garoza Family Book
ALA 50 to LV100 (2018)

The book 'ALA 50 to LV 100', dedicated to Latvia's centenary, is the greatest treasure of the Garoza family, as it tells about the American Latvian Association and its achievements during its 50 years of existence. The book reveals how ALA representatives worked to help their homeland. Being on the other side of the ocean, these people, along with their compatriots in their homeland, formed important milestones for Latvia and helped at key moments. The Garoza family has endured a lot, but has retained love and respect for their homeland and family roots.

Kansks Family Book
'A Return to the Source' (2013)

The Kansks Family Book compiles the articles of the Kansks Family, from origins to broad branches. Those who have begun to identify their own family know how exciting it is, as you start to unravel the past - a lot of blank pages and endless questions emerge. Each of the answers I find brings tremendous satisfaction and a willingness to move on as we continue to discover the riddles of the past. Especially since it will be possible to pass on all the discoveries to future generations, which will hopefully continue to write down the Kansks’ story.