|History of Latvian
bibliography must be considered within the context of history of
Latvia and Latvian publishing. History of bibliography in a country usually
is as long as the national publishing, but the beginning of Latvian bibliography
falls behind the beginning of publishing in Latvia for more than 200 years.
The origins of Latvian publishing dates back to the 16th century,
but those of bibliography - to the 18th century only. The reason for it
is the political and economical dependence of Latvians, which delayed both
the development of education and the necessity for bibliographic
information about the national printed production. The first bibliographic
production in Latvia was not national either by contents or the compilers’
nationalty, but still it was intended for Latvians. Most of
the 18th century bibliographic material in their form only conventionally
corresponded to the notion “bibliographic production” in the modern
understanding of it.
The first bibliographic materials of the 18th century were notices about printed materials. They were compiled both about materials which were already published and about the planned materials in order to inform the potential readers about the possibilities to acquire the printed materials, to organize subscription, to collect money for publishing, to forecast the number of copies to be printed. The first attempt to organize subscription to a manual was in 1731, performed by Vidzeme clergy: general supercommissary Jacob Benjamin Fischer organized subscription to the second edition of the Bible in Vidzeme and in Kurzeme. They sent sample pages of the new edition to the potential customers.
Beside notices about subscription, the notices about the books already published were compiled. The texts of notices were included in other publications. The oldest discovered notice was published in the book “Jauna un veca latviešu laiku grāmata uz to 1774.gadu” (“Old and New Book of Latvian Times for the Year 1774”) by J.F. Stefenhāgens under the title “News” and it contained the publisher’s annotation about Johans Rozenbergs’ book “Salasīšana, pēc godīgas, jaukas un auglīgas laika kavēšanas pie tiem gariem ziemas vakariem” (“Reading for Honest, Nice and Fruitful Pastime in Long Winter Evenings”), which was published in 1773. The notice is a typical example of bibliography of the period.
Beginning with the 1890ties the notices about the printed materials were published also separately - on leaflets. One of the first notices of the kind was published in 1791 under the title “Nachricht” ("News”) about Gustavs Bergmanis’ book “Labu ziņu un padomu grāmata, vidzemniekiem par labu taisīta” (“Book of Good News and Advices, Well- Written for the Inhabitants of Vidzeme”), published in the same year. There is information about 11 separately published notices, containing bibliographic information. Only one of them is written in Latvian J.F.Stefenhāgens' “Mīļie latvieši” (“Dear Latvians”) (1796.g.) about the book “Latvisku gada grāmatu” (“Latvian yearbook”).
The 18th century is marked by the first lists compiled by publishers about their printed materials. First, one must mention J.F.Stefenhāgens. They have found his list, published in 1788 in Jelgava, including also 26 books published in the Latvian Language. J.F.Stefenhāgens compiled also lists of Latvian books. One of the first lists of Latvian books was published in his “Jaunā un vecā laiku grāmatā uz tu [!] 1794.gadu” (“Old and New Book of Times for the Year 1794”) under the title – “Latvisku [!] grāmatas, ko par to naudu, kā še pierakstīts irad, pie tā grāmatu spiedēja Jelgavā neiesietas dabūt var” (“Latvian Books Which Are Available For the Price Mentioned Here From the Publisher in Jelgava”). J.F.Stefenhāgens thought not only about the elements of the bibliographic record, but also about comfortable division into languages in two parts - German and Latvian. It was the first attempt to introduce the systematization of printed material, creating separate chapters for religious books, scientific books, first readers, fiction.
“J.F.Stefenhāgena un dēla” (“J.F.Stefenhāgens and Son”) publishing house introduced a new type of printed material - journal “Latviska Gada Grāmata” (“Latvian Annual Book”), in order to inform about the materials they publish. In 1797 it contained the list of books “Grāmatas, kuras šeitan Jelgavā pie grāmatu spiedēja Stefenhāgena, Rīgas un Liepājas pilsētā pie grāmatu preciniekiem, kā arīdzan citās pilsētās pie bokbinderiem par to klātdriķētu maksu neiesietas var dabūt” (“Books Available for The Indicated Price from the Publisher Stefenhāgens, Booksellers in Riga, Liepāja and Other Cities”) (Latviska Gada Grāmata, 1797, Nr. 3, 162.-168.lpp.).
Priest of Mazsalaca and later Rūjiena Gustavs Bergmanis also gave his contribution to the field of bibliography. He founded a house printing workshop and produced books for the Latvians. The priest was a passionate collector of printed material. He possessed a collection of Biblical texts, which he wanted to enlarge. Therefore in 1789 he published a bibliographic list in German “Zur Nachricht” (“About the News”), which enumerated all printed materials in his possession, as well as indicated the books which were not included in his collection. The list gains its significance as the beginning of the retrospective bibliography. The retrospective bibliography of Latvian printed material was started by German priests at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. At the second half of the 18th century the Germans started to produce the bibliographic dictionaries. Frīdrihs Konrāds Gādebušs compiled “Livländische Bibliothek nach alphabetischer Ordnung” (Rīga, 1777). Heinrihs Baumanis compiled a bibliographic list “Bibliotheca Lettica” about the period from 1766 to 1783. Unfortunately the list was preserved only in the handwriting.
half of the 19th century continued and developed the bibliographic traditions
established in the 18th century. The period is characterized by the first
attempts to create analytical bibliography, current bibliography, printed
catalogues of the libraries, as well as to survey the whole Latvian printed
production. The most significant work of the period is the “Hronoloģiskais
Conspect der lettischen Literatur von 1587 bis 1830) by K.E.Napjerskis
and three continuations of it until 1868. The last part about the period
from 1856 to 1868 was compiled by A.Dobner.
the middle of the 19th century the Latvians had already gained certain
economical and legal independence from the German noblemen and clergy,
and some of them had already acquired the secondary or even the higher
education. The Latvians acquired certain positions in economics, culture,
literature and in bibliography. Beside the traditional types of bibliography
a new type - local history bibliography - originates. Its foundations are
laid by Kr.Barons with the separately printed publication “Указатель
сочинений о коренных жителях Прибалтийского
края” (“Index of Publications About the Natives of the Baltic
Region”). B.Dīriķis provides a historical survey of printed material
in different branches
rakstniecība” (“Latvian penmanship”). Publishers’ and
book sellers’ bibliography beside publishers is also compiled by the
Literary Society of the Latvians, by publishing the ”Grāmatu
rulli”, (“Roll of the books”), which indicates the books to be
borrowed and purchased from the Society of the Latvians at the Latvian
Newspaper House in Jelgava - “Jelgava, 1860”. "Grāmatu
rullis” (“Roll of the Books”) is published in "Magazin,
herausgegeben von der Lettisch-Literarischen Gesellschaft” in the
3rd part of the Volume 12; later published also in 43 pages’ separate
In the 19th century, form 1872 to 1885, the number of Latvian publishing houses increased and the German companies also continued work. The various production of the book publishers also determined the variations of bibliography and its further development. The regular bibliography was compiled, although it was not sufficient and regular. They compiled the lists of advisory bibliography, surveys of the works published in separate fields, as well as lists of printed material to be acquired by school libraries. The most important bibliographic catalogues of the 1870ies-1880ies are the Brothers Bušs’ “Rādītājs no visām grāmatām, kādas tagad ir dabūjamas Latviskā grāmatu bodē un bibliotēkā pie brāļiem K. un M.Buš” (“Index of All Books Available Now in the Bookshop and in the Library of Brothers K.and M. Bušs”). Similar compilations were published annually from 1872 to 1876. The second most important compilation was "Rādītājs par J.E.K.Kapteiņa lasāmu grāmatu krātuvi” (“Index About J.E.K. Kapteinis Collection of Books for Reading”), published from 1877 to 1883.
bibliography was published by “Правительственный
Вестник”(“Government Announcer”) in St. Petersburgh.
end of the 19th century is marked by the beginning of the Latvian current
bibliography, which registered all Latvian printed materials. One of its
founders A.Bandrevičs with “Latviešu
grāmatu vācelīti” (“Container Of Latvian Books”) which was
published in 1866 in 5 issues of journal “Austrums”
(“Orient”) as lists of current bibliography. The period is also significant
by the book reviews from Science Commission of Latvian Society. Latvian
printed materials are also surveyed by “Latviešu
rakstniecības rādītājs” (“Index of Latvian Penmanship”) by
J.Berģis and J.Šablovskis. The bibliography of Latgallian printed material
is compiled by G.Manteifels. Beside separate book publishers and booksellers,
the lists of printed materials were also compiled by the Department of
Useful Books of Latvian Society.
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