Establishment and initial activity (1936–1940)

14 January 1936 – the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia passed a Law on the Institute of Latvian History, which defined the goal of the institute’s activities: “the study and investigation of events and phenomena in Latvian and general history in a spirit of nationalism and veracity”. The statutes of the Institute of Latvian History (21.01.1936) defined the following priority areas: evaluating and making public sources on the history of Latvia and promoting research into the history of Latvia. The institute was intended as the first element of the planned Latvian Academy of Sciences, but this could not be achieved during the inter-war period. 

Administration of the institute. The first director of the institute (1936–1940) was the Minister of Education of that time, Augusts Tentelis (1876–1942), with assistant directors Francis Balodis (1882–1947) and Arveds Švābe (1888–1959). Marģers Stepermanis (1898–1968) served as acting secretary-general. 

The first fellows of the institute were: Arnolds Spekke (1887–1972), Pēteris Šmits (1869–1938), Roberts Vipers (1859–1954) and Jānis Bērziņš (1883–1941).

Location: 5 Anglikāņu iela, Riga, starting from late 1939.

Structure and staff: The institute was organized into four departments undertaking historical research: the Prehistory Department, the Early History Department, the Modern History Department and the General History Department. The staff included: Benno Ābers (1909–1990), Pēteris Bērziņš (1882–1954), Vilis Biļķins (1887–1974), Edgars Dunsdorfs (1904–2002), Valdemārs Ģinters (1899–1979), Georgs Karlsons (1873–1945), Žanis Karlsons (1899–1976), Nikolajs Ķaune (1903–1939), Roberts Malvess (1905–1982), Aleksandrs Plensners (1892–1984), Elvīra Šnore (1905–1996), Rauls Šnore (1901–1962), Eduards Šturms (1895–1959), Juris Vīgrabs (1881–1958) and others. Many of the institute’s employees were also on the teaching staff of the University of Latvia. 

In 1936 the institute established a publishing company, which published collections of sources compiled by historians, and starting in 1937 it published the Journal of the Institute of Latvian History (Latvijas Vēstures Institūta Žurnāls; accessible at