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Courland Society for Literature and Art and the Courland Provincial Museum


Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs
Latvia State Historical Archives
Riga, Latvia

Record group

Courland Society for Literature and Art and the Courland Provincial Museum
Kurzemes literatūras un mākslas biedrība un Kurzemes provinces muzejs
Reference code : 5759
Period : 1338-1939
Extent : 1508 items


This record group includes minutes, correspondence, catalogues and other documents about the establishment, activities and finances of the Courland Society for Literature and Art as well as the Courland Provincial Museum (described inventory no. 1). In addition, the record group contains a collection of various manuscripts and other records that were gathered by the Society and the Museum and date from the period between the fourteenth to twentieth century (described in inventory no. 2).

Relevant contents

Period : 1604 - 1800
Countries involved : Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, The Netherlands, Various countries
Languages : French, High German, Latin

Inventory no. 2 lists the following relevant items:

Besides, other relevant documents concerning trade, towns and merchants may be found, especially series such as Akten und Staatsschriften (items 1-221), Chroniken (420-425), Kurland (900-924) and Riga (1084-1094), which contain decrees, copies of privileges, historical descriptions and various other records.


Two inventories: no. 1 in Latvian (1961), no. 2 in German (1967), with supplements in Russian and Latvian.

Inventory no. 3 of the record group with reference code 7363 (concerning Baltic history) can be used as an additional finding aid for the Society's manuscript collection. This inventory (1960) often contains more precise titles and a more consequent thematic division of items that later on were moved to the record group of the Courland Society for Literature and Art and the Courland Provincial Museum.

Record creator / provenance

The Courland Society for Literature und Art (Kurländische Gesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst) was founded by German scholars and public men in 1818 in Jelgava (Mitau), the capital city of the Courland Guberniia (province). Its aims were to promote the development of science and art in Courland. Members of the Society were active in many fields, but in the course of time it focused more and more on local history.

In 1818, the Society initiated the establishment of the Courland Provincial Museum in Jelgava. The Society and the Museum, which had common authorities from the 1880s onward, became a center for the collection of manuscripts as well as other historical items and pictures relating to the Courland area. The Society also stimulated the foundation of the Courland Provincial Archives in 1903.

The Society's activities are reflected in the following journals:
  • Jahresverhandlungen der kurländischen Gesellschaften für Literatur und Kunst (1819-1822).
  • Sendungen der kurländischen Gesellschaften für Literatur und Kunst (1840-1847).
  • Arbeiten der kurländischen Gesellschaften für Literatur und Kunst (1847-1851).
  • Sitzungsberichte der kurländischen Gesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst und Jahresbericht des Kurländischen Provinzialmuseums (1864-1937).
  • Jahrbuch für Genealogie, Heraldik und Sphragistik (1894-1930).
At the end of the 1930s, the Society was renamed into the German Scholastic Society of Courland and Semgallen. It ceased to exist as a consequence of the resettlement of Baltic Germans to Germany in 1939. On the base of the Provincial Museum, the Museum for History and Art in Jelgava (Ģederta Eliasa Jelgavas vēstures un mākslas muzejs) was established afterwards.

Custodial history