July 26th, 2019

Brother who inspired radical Latvian writer died in Minneapolis

Among the luminaries to emerge in Latvia during the early 20th century revolutionary period was Ernests Eferts-Klusais (1889-1927), a writer and teacher regarded as a talented and dedicated Marxist. However, this story is not about him, but about an older brother, Jānis, who became one of the first Latvian immigrants to die in Minnesota.

May 26th, 2019

Evidence dispels story that Latvian among first to die in Civil War

One of the legends about the early Latvian presence in the United States is that among the first to die in the American Civil War was a man named Mārtiņš Buciņš. Perhaps he fought for the Union Army, or maybe he served with the Confederate Army, or possibly he was a civilian who had become a casualty of the conflict. But he was Latvian and that’s what mattered.

March 28th, 2019

Two small Latvian periodicals remain mostly a mystery

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to collect details, and in some cases even samples, of most of the various periodicals published by early 20th century Latvian immigrants and their descendants in the United States. But two publications, both produced in Chicago before World War I, remain largely a mystery.

December 19th, 2018

Latvian émigré’s tale of torture heard around the world

The brutality of the 1905 Revolution and the subsequent punitive expeditions in the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire saw frequent coverage in European and American newspapers, even after the worst of the repressions were over.

November 23rd, 2018

A decade later, Tursten’s inspector Huss still solves odd murders

A series of ritualistic murders keep a slightly older Detective Inspector Irene Huss busy as she continues to balance the demands of a two-career family in one of the most recent crime novels by Swedish writer Helene Tursten to be translated into English.

November 22nd, 2018

Immigrant catalogued Latvian books, proposed new orthography

A little-known writer who immigrated to the United States more than a century ago helped build a collection of Latvian books in the Chicago Public Library, but failed in his efforts to bring bibliographic and orthographic reform to his homeland.

October 23rd, 2018

Enlightenment among goals of early Latvian society in California

On the first Saturday of November 1897, a group of Latvians gathered in an apartment on Natoma Street in downtown San Francisco. Their goal was to elect five members to the board of the newly formed Lettonian Society “Latonia” of San Francisco — the first Latvian organization on the west coast of the United States.

August 18th, 2018

Primer on website design explores new approaches to CSS

Two decades ago, I taught myself how to create websites using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Come fall semester, I again will be teaching undergraduates how to do the same. To brush up on some of the latest thinking about how best to blend HTML and CSS to reach a desired outcome, I picked up Rachel Andrew’s The New CSS Layout.

June 22nd, 2018

Guide to writing a lot is perfect kick in the pants

If someone told me they had just read Paul J. Silvia’s How to Write a Lot and now were doing just that, I would scoff. I don’t need some book to tell me that writing according to a schedule is better than “binge writing.” But I do.

June 16th, 2018

Latvian schooner becomes focus of ‘strange shipwreck yarn’

“If any one wants an experienced skipper for sailing craft and a crew of seven able bodied seamen to sail any old sea on the face of the map they can get such a company right now at this port, for Capt. T. Krastin and his crew are without ship or employment.” So began a January 19, 1906, story in The Sun, a daily newspaper in New York City. It told of the “strange shipwreck yarn” of the captain and crew of the Kauss, a three-masted wooden schooner typical of the kind built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Baltic Sea region.