Archive of Humanity
Entries of Note
Use of Collection
Rules of use


The lifestory is a source for qualitative research. The most basic component of the NMV collection is the written or recorded document of personal history, a short or lengthy story of a persons life and observations.

Oral history, in contrast to traditional written history, is unedited, and is just as true and perceptive as is life. The lifestory is raw material that the researcher may evaluate and put in context.

The lifestory that is created in a conversation with an interviewer, is free from standards imposed by quantitative research and questionaires. The interviewer creates an informal environment, in which the conversation partner talks about familiar situations and his/her life in familiar terms.

The researcher finds information on several levels. In addition to the geographic and historical chronology, the individuals lifestory includes unique patterns of speech, images, expressions, myths, fables, ideas.

The individuals story may be recorded in several media: audio cassettes, written memoirs, photographs, household documents, letters, journals, video tapes, film.

Each testimony is characterized by the individuals unique approach, experience, and background, which therefore is hard to categorize according to themes, but rather the entire testimony allows individuals to understand individuals experiences that differ from their own. Trust plays a key role in creating the lifestory and is the primary principal in the formation and creation of the collection.



Professional researchers and a large part of society - those who have agreed to share their experiences - play key roles in the acquisition of lifestories.

Lifestories are acquired through research and field work. The lifestory interview is the product of the authors - the interviewees and interviewers - work together, the result of an interactive process. The author narrates his/her story as he/she desires, but the interviewers may also suggest questions.

The selection of interviewees in qualitative study may be based on: The snowball principle - one interviewee may suggest a next candidate Personal contacts, recommendations by others The suggestion of experts in the field

Regularly occurring fieldwork:
Mid-summer: Multi-project fieldwork project Lifestory-Latvia
Year-round project: Lifestory in the Diaspora

Specific Research Projects:
Qualitative study on poverty in Latvia
The Home: Riga, Latvia
Multi-generions: 100 x 100
A regional study of experience of ethnic diversity in Latvia


Archive of Humanity

The central role of the individual in the creation of the collection and research is evident by the name of the collection: Archive of Humanity. This archive contains audio-recorded lifestories of the twentieth century.

There are 2990 lifestories in the archive. The author - the individual who records or writes his/her memories - takes part in the creation of the archive, and agrees to include his/her memories, verifying this with his/her signature.

NMV Archive has the following individual collections, given in order of date of acquisition:
I Testimonies of glasnost and renewal of independance (Third Awakening): 1986-1990
II Latvians in the United States and Canada: 1990
III Latvians in Great Britain: 1990, 1992, 2009, 2011
IV Interviews in Latvia: 1992-1993
V Interviews conducted by Baiba Bela and Ginta Elksne: 1994-1995
VI Dagmaras Vallenas collection (interviews of the USA correspondent of Radio Free Europe): 1975-1992
VII Latvians in Norway: 1993-1996
VIII Interviews in Latvia 1994-1995
IX Field work in Skriveri: 1995
X Home/House in Riga, Latvia: 1995-1996
XI Interviews in Latvia: 1994-1997
XII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - 1996
XIII Latvians in Sweden: 1996
XIV Interviews conducted by the students of Riga school of commerce
XV Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Latgale: 1997
XVI Field work in Renda with Jim Staley
XVII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Latgale: 1998
XVIII Project of American Latvian Association (ALA) - Lifestory in the diaspora
XIX Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Vidzeme: 1999
XX Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Selonia: 2000
XXI Collection of Inara Kaija Eglite
XXII Multigeneration collection: 100 X 100
XXIII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Lejaskurzeme: 2001
XXIV Collection of Dainis Grinvalds
XXV Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Ventspils: 2002
XXVI Collection of Dace Belecka
XXVII Interviews in Latvia: 1998-2000
XXIX Interviews conducted by students of University of Latvia
XXX Interviews in Latvia: 1997-2003
XXXI Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Alsunga 2003
XXXII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Višķi 2003
XXXIII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Vārkava 2004-2005
XXXIV Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Alūksne 2004
XXXV Interviews in Latvia
XXXVI Latvians in Muenster: 2005
XXXVII Collection of Martins Vesperis
XXXVIII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Branti 2005
XXXIX Latvians in Brazil: collection of Brigita Tamuza
XL Collection of Solveiga Miezite
XLI Latvians in Sweden: 2006-2007
XLII Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Turlava 2006
XLIII Interviews in Latvia
XLIV Collection of Janis Cakars
XLV Field work Lifestory in Latvia - Turlava 2007
XLVI Collection of Anita Timans Kalns
XLVII Collection of Egils Ermansons
XLVIII Field work in Ziemeļlatgale: 2008
LI Field work in Bauskas district: 2010
XLIX Collection of Vieda Skultans
L Latvians un Australia: 2009
LII Field work in Gotland
LIII Field work in Dagda: 2011

Entries of note:

Authors of the longest lifestories:
Juris Klavins, U.S. - 17 hours, 10 audiocassettes
Voldemars Ploss, U.S. - 20 hours
Miervaldis Jansevics, U.S. - 20 hours
Sofija Dravniece, Latvia - 10.5 hours, 9 audiocassettes
Biruta Leite, b. 1912, Latvia - 10.5 hours, 7 audiocassettes
Margarita sidere, b. 1913. in Vladivostok. Latvia 12 hours, 8 audiocassettes
Helena Gerasimova, b. 1911. 12 hours, 8 audiocassetes

Oldest authors:
Pauls Kundzins, b. 1888. Smiltene
Milda Spalvina, b. 1889. Alsviki
Emma Joozus, b. 1890. Cesis
Marija Petersone, b. 1892. okt.
Lidija Kruklande-Liepina,b. 1893, Baiskalna
Emma Avots, b. 1893. Jeros
Alma Urbane, b. 1894. Mazirbe
Sofija Dravniece, b. 1895. Dundaga
Marta Germane, b. 1895. Riga
Salimona Romanovska, b. 1896. Berzpili

Long-silenced Cultural Representatives of Latvia:
Janis Sirmanis, writer. Syracuse, U.S. 1990
Uldis Germanis, writer and historian. Riga, Stockholm. 1995 and 1996.
Janis Klidzejs, writer. U.S. 1999
Gunars Janovskis, writer. London, 1990.
Andrejs Eglitis, poet, Stockholm, 1996.
Tadeusz Puisens, writer and historian, Toronto, Canada, 1990.
Velta Snikere, poet. London, 1990.
Ingrida Viksna, poet, Toronto, Canada, 1990.
Elza Ziverte, singer. Toronto, Canada, 1990.
Andrejs Jansons, musician. U.S. 1999.

The collection holdings include Radio Latvia broadcasts from the 1991 Barricades in Riga.


Use of Collection

The collection may be used:
- for academic research by students for research, baccalauerate, masters, and doctorate theses
- by researchers of cultural history, regional identities, and traditions
- by educational programs
- as a resource for films, books

Those who are interested in using the collection may fill out the application for users. Users agree to work with the NMV collection staff and to abide by the rules of use.

Researchers who wish to conduct extensive research must come to the NMV in person and arrange for the conditions of use. Applications for use are accepted by mail or telephone.

Current users include:
- Nikola Nau, a docent at Cologne University, Germany is conducting research on Latvian conversational language
- Mara Lazda, a doctoral candidate in history at Indiana University, USA is using the collection in dissertation research.


Rules of use:

Collection users must abide by the permission to use agreement made between the collection and the lifestory author. Many authors allow their lifestories to be used for academic research or publication. There are authors, however, who wish to remain anonymous. No personal data may be used for internet publication. Researchers, publishers, and others who would like to request more information about the NMV Archive of Humanity should send in an application for use. All publications must cite NMV Archive of Humanity as a source.