The Collection of photo negatives owned by the National History Museum of Latvia preserves 802 glass plate photographic negatives made by the Board of Monuments between 1924 and 1931. This represents an authentic, unique and irreplaceable set of testimonies that portray a historically significant time of Latvia – the implementation of the Agrarian reform – and so include traditional forms of husbandry and handicrafts native to particular regions of Latvia, which gradually disappeared after the World War II.
Main tasks of the Board of Monuments founded by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Latvia in 1923 were to organize expeditions to gather some information on cultural monuments, to conduct archaeological excavations, to study, protect and maintain cultural monuments and to promote Latvian cultural heritage. To carry this out, special ethnographic expeditions were organized to protect the vanishing phenomena of traditional Latvian lifestyle. These ethnographic expeditions recorded the countryside, buildings, work processes, tools and materials implemented, domestic scenes, and people in their everyday environment.
For every photo taken, a so called “passport of photo negative” was created, indicating the object photographed, its geographical position, location, time taken and author of the photo.
The significance of the document collection in the context of the history of Latvia should be highlighted especially today, because photo negatives depict the cultural reality that no longer exists. It forms a qualitative, unbiased and very important visual source of information that can contribute to the interpretation of Latvian history in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Visual material: Authors: (1) Jānis Students, (2) Andrejs Punka, (3) V. Krastiņš, National History Museum of Latvia (1. Linen processing in Vecpiebalga parish, Cēsu district, 1928; 2. Beekeepers at the beehive in Madona district, Ļaudona parish, 1928; 3. Fabric weaving on a loom in Talsi district, 1931).