Ziņas (News)

This page contains news and information relating to the members of the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts.
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
  • 22 May 2015 4:07 PM | Jolanta Mockus (Administrator)

    “No Home To Go To: The Story of Baltic Displaced Persons 1944-1952”

                “Thousands flee as battlefronts near”

    Fearing bombings and the threat of oppression, thousands of civilians flee daily to neighboring countries by any means available.  As fierce fighting continues on both sides, families, many with small children, seek safety in makeshift communities where food and accommodations are scarce or non-existent.  The plight of these refugees is creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

    This news clip describes what happened seventy years ago to displaced persons (DPs) in Europe, fleeing their homes and uprooting their lives because of the approach of Soviet forces in the last year of World War II.  Journalists all around the world continue to repeat these same words to this very day.  While “No Home to Go To” focuses on the three Baltics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – its message sadly still echoes in the hearts of many more millions of people.

    From June 22 though August 30, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Central Branch, will open an unprecedented exhibition of the Baltic diaspora, drawing on the memories, documents, photographs, and memorabilia of families and individuals who lived through the WWII experience.

    Where: Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street. Second Floor West Gallery, see for directions and parking

    When:  June 22 though August 30, 2015, hours: M-Th 9am – 9pm; F 9am – 6pm; Sat 9am – 5pm; Sun 1pm – 5pm

    Exhibition opening reception: free and open to the public, Tuesday, June 23, 5:30pm – 7pm; RSVP required, to request invitation contact:

    For more information: 773-582-6500 or Karile Vaitkute, Rita Janz,

    215-735-7110 or Krista Bard

    The creation of this exhibition reflects the collaborative effort of numerous institutions including: the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, the Latvian Folk Art Museum, the Chicago Estonian House, and the Lithuanian Emigration Institute. 

    This project is partially supported by grants from the Kazickas Family Foundation, Lithuanian Council for Culture, Lithuanian Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Women’s Guild of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, the Latvian Foundation, Inc., Cultural Foundation of the World Federation of Free Latvians, the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts, the Estonian American National Council and the Estonian American Council of Philadelphia, the Lithuanian American Association of Philadelphia, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Lithuania and private donations.

  • 28 Aug 2014 4:11 PM | Jolanta Mockus (Administrator)

    by Historical Society of Pennsylvania

    Wednesday, 8/20/14

    Established in 1892, the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts, or Filadelfijas Brīvo Latvju Biedrība (BLB), is the oldest Latvian Society outside of Latvia.

    The term "Letts" refers to the Baltic ethnic group native to the area that today is Latvia. There is some evidence that Letts first came to the Americas with Swedish and Finnish settlers in the 1600s, and if so, some more than likely would have ended up here--after all, Philadelphia was at the center of New Sweden. But the population of Lettlanders in the United States was sparse until the 1880s, when oppression against the community in Tsarist Russia caused many to flee. The Philadelphia Society of Free Letts was established as a settlement house following this wave of immigration. It was formally incorporated in 1894 as a benevolent, educational, and charitable organization.

    Early activities of Philadelphia's BLB included helping to acclimate Lettish immigrants to American society and laws, maintaining a bilingual library, and providing relief to poor, sick, and distressed members. The BLB was also a social center, where Letts living in Philadelphia or sailors passing through town could come for food and drink. To this day, the bilingual library and social hall remain important parts of the BLB.

    "In the fall of 1965: closing the bar before the start of building renovation. Beverage packing undertaken by Janis Berķis, in whose house the beverages were stored until the building reconstruction was complete."  [Thanks to blog reader Kārlis for translating the caption!]

    A large wave of Lettish emigration following the 1905 Revolution in Russia brought many new members to Philadelphia's BLB. The Soviet era brought even more immigrants, and increased activity of the BLB advocating for Latvian political prisoners and the independence of Latvia.

    In 1910 the group purchased the building  where it has remained for over 100 years, with major improvements completed in the 1960s. The Philadelphia Society of Free Letts is located at a mini cultural hub, immediately next to the German Society of Pennsylvania and across from the Edgar Allen Poe Historic Site, at at 531 N. 7th Street. But the neighborhood has seen many changes over more than 100 years since the BLB purchased its building in 1910. (With a major expansion/improvement project in the 1960s.) The 1980s were a particularly violent time in Philadelphia's history, and the BLB felt its impact. In this 1985 letter, President of the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts Roberts Lidums implored Mayor Wilson Goode to improve security in the BLB's neighborhood.

    "In the last few months, there have been at least 10 incidents involving muggings, purse snatchings, and car burglaries while our members were attending Society functions. Frankly, many of our members are becoming so concerned about the problem that it has been suggested that we sell our property in the City and relocate to the 'safer' suburbs."

    Ultimately, the BLB decided to stick it out at 531 N. 7th Street, which is where we went to check out their archives. We found administrative and financial, membership, and other records of the club dating back to the 1890s, including the 1894 charter, meeting minutes from the BLB's theater club, photographs, correspondence, and more. There is also a large amount of newsletters, clippings, pamphlets, event invitations and programs, and other ephemera from the BLB, about the BLB, or by or about other Latvian organizations or issues (mostly in the US but also in other countries and in Latvia).

    Don't hesitate to visit the BLB yourself to see their archives, peruse their library of Latvian books, or check out their cultural programing and activities. Letts go!

    Historical Society Of Pennsylvania

  • 06 Jun 2014 3:39 PM | Jolanta Mockus (Administrator)

    From: Signe Baumane <>

    Dear Philadelphia Society of Free Letts,

    I am a Latvian born, New York based independent animator and my animated feature film
    "Rocks In My Pockets" was just accepted into one of the world's most prestigious film festivals -
    Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
    The film is about history of depression in my family and since it's impossible to tell a Latvian family's history 
    without history of Latvia, then it has elements of it there as well.
    We plan to release the film theatrically in 10 US cities this fall and after that - online.
    Please check out the film's trailer and other related information here:
    If you would like to receive updates on film's screenings, please subscribe to our newsletter and help us to spread the word about the film.
    Thank you so much!
    Hope, till soon!
    Signe Baumane

    "Rocks In My Pockets"
    A funny film about depression.
    Join the crazy quest for sanity!
  • 13 May 2014 6:29 PM | Maija Mednis (Administrator)
    Dziļās sērās ziņojam, ka trīs no mūsu biedriem ir iemiguši Dieva mierā...
    Varat dusēt mierīgi, jo mēs uz zemes jūs atcerēsimies.

  • 23 Apr 2014 9:07 PM | Maija Mednis (Administrator)

    Embassy Suites Hotel
    Philadelphia International Airport
    2014. g. 2. — 4. maijā

    Sekojiet šai saiknei, lai uzzinātu par ALA Kongresu:

    Viesu pieteikšanās ankete:

    ALA kongresa viesu pieteikšanās

  • 15 Mar 2014 10:46 PM | Maija Mednis (Administrator)
    Filadelfijas pensionāru kopas sanāksme

    2014. g. 15. martā

    Uz pensionāru kopas marta satikšanos pulcējās aptuveni 30 Filadelfijas apkārtnes tautieši. Bija prieks redzēt arī Ņudžersijas latviešus kuplā skaitā.

    Nik. Balabkina kungs teica interesantu referātu par savu dzīvi, par kara gaitām un par savu jaunāko autobiogrāfisko grāmatu "Forged By Reality".

    Pateicība Ģirtam Zeidenbergam par veikto darbu priekšnesuma sagādāšanā, kā arī viesu un biedru aicināšanā.

    Saieta beigās atzīmēja dzimumdienas, to skaitā māc. Arvīdam Ziedonim, Capt. Alfonam Mednim (ret. USMC), leģionāram Andrejam Brošam, Latvijas valsts Brīvības cīnītāja Jāņa Abena dēlam Sandoram Abenam un Almai Rītiņai. Almai Rītiņai paliek martā 102 gadi. Tā nudien ir liela jubileja!

    Par "kafijas galdu" atsauksmes bija labas. Paldies Aidai un visiem rūķīšiem kas palīdzēja ar to. Bija Latvijas šprotes, siļķmaizītes, asins desa, galerts, kūkas, tortes, buberts un pat virtulīšu vezums atvests no Vilmingtonas! Kafija un vīns netrūka.

    Sveiks lai dzīvo!

    Filadelfijas pensionāru kopas skribentu komisija

  • 27 Feb 2014 2:33 PM | Maija Mednis (Administrator)
    Par Ilzi Gotfrīdu:
    - Dzimusi 1991. gadā Dobelē
    - Augums 182cm
    - Spēka uzbrucēja
    - BJSS „Jugla” audzēkne, iepriekš spēlējusi Kandavā
    - Trīs reizes spēlējusi Eiropas jaunatnes čempionātu finālturnīros
       (U16 Valmiera 2007, U18 Skopje 2008 un Sēdertelje 2009)
    - 2009. gada novembrī atzīta par Latvijas Sieviešu basketbola līgas
       mēneša vērtīgāko spēlētāju, 2010. gada maijā nosaukta par JSBL
       pirmās sezonas MVP
    - 2010. gada pavasarī izvēlējusies „Saint Joseph`s University”
       komandu „Atlantic 10” konferencē

    Vēl par Ilzi var lasīt mājas lapā:
  • 12 Dec 2013 9:06 AM | Jolanta Mockus (Administrator)

    Patiesība par 7. decembra Ziemassvētku tirdziņu 

    Filadelfijas Brīvo latvju biedrībā

            Dzeltenās preses pārstāve Sandra Milevska

    Ko tas nozīmē, ja Filadelfijā izvelk loterijas biļeti, bet galveno balvu, Aidas Bērziņas klusās dabas akvareli, saņem pretējā ASV krasta iedzīvotāja, pazīstamā redaktore Astra Moora?  Vai tad tas skaidri nenorāda, ka no austrumkrasta savu neatvairāmo ietekmi pāri visam kontinentam ir neizbēgami paplašinājusi Filadelfijas nodaļa?

    Pārskatot atslepenoto Eduarda Snoudena informāciju, kas jau priekšlaicīgi ir parādījusies LatvianUSA interneta portālā, kļūst skaidrs, ka bez izņēmumiem latviešu centros smaga komerciāla darbība notiek taisni šajā gada laikā.  Sabrauc no tuvām un tālām vietām, katrs ar savu ietekmes zonu un sev vien zināmo aizmuguri, un tirgojas uz nebēdu.  Latviešu vai vismaz baltiešu preču alkstošajiem tiek piedāvāta pārtika, rotas, t-krekli, pēdējās vēl dabūnāmās latu monētas, kompaktdiski un DVD, par sedziņām, spilveniem, utt nemaz nerunājot.  Bet visiem taču ir skaidrs, ka tur, kur notiek tirgošanās, arī ir iespiedies rekets.  

    Kas stāv aiz šīs varenās Filadelfijas nodaļas, kas gadu pēc gada palielina savu darbību un savu ietekmi, un tagad škietami pakļauj sev vai visas ASV līdz pat rietumkrastam?  Kas ir īstais capo di capi? Vai tumšs sicīliešu krusttēvs, vai varbūt ļauns ķīniešu tongs, vai varbūt pat krievu mafija, tiešā ceļā no sava Bruklinas perēkļa?  Nekādā gadījumā!  Tās ir -- divas latvju zeltenes!  Vienīgi šeit, eksklusīvā reportāžā, atļaujamies nomest segvārdus un atklāt viņu īstās identitātes:  Rita Ramane un Jolanta Mockus.  Šķietami stāvot malā, nekā nedarot, faktiski viņas abas viltīgi aizkulisēs jau vairākus gadus nosaka un attīsta visas organizācijas piramīdu un pārvalda plašu savu padoto tīklojumu.  Bez viņu akcepta un piekrišanas ne tirgotāji, ne pircēji nepakustina ne pirkstiņa.   

    Nodaļā pastāv dzelžaina disciplīna, un par pilnīgu padoto pakļautību nav šaubu. Par to liecina, kaut vai, lielo pircēju un tirgoņu pūļa izvērstā barošana un dzirdīšana, kam tiek veltīts viss pirmais stāvs, kur aiz ēdienu un dzērienu letēm stāv sagādātāji (Jānis Ansons), virēji (Raimonds Ramanis), apkalpotāji un pārdevēji (Laris Krēsliņš, Ūna Kārkliņa, Vineta UZVĀRDS?).  Augštāvā arī mudž, bet iekļūt nav iespējams nenokārtojot saistības ar gruntīgo iekšālaidēju Ēriku Mežgaili.  Notikumu secību bīda vēl divi, visaugstāk stāvošie, nodaļas izpalīgi (tikai šeit, atslepenojam viņu īstos vārdus Māra un Aldis Kubuliņi), kas savam augstajam rangam organizācijā pievērš uzmanību ar gada laikam piemērotiem, rūpīgi saskaņotiem ansambļiem:  Mārai spilgti sarkans puloveris un debesskrāpju augstuma sarkanas kurpes (vajadzības gadījumā kalpo arī par ieroci) ar Alda koši zaļo kreklu un sarkano un zaļo Ziemassvētku kaklasaiti.  Tieši viņi, zem Jolantas Mockus modrās acs, stingri kontrolē loterijas norisi ar daudzām vērtīgām balvām.  Fona mūziku patīkamai noskaņai piedāvā vijolniece Guna Pantele, bet kā agent-provocateur pa pūli ložņā slepens tips (īstais vārds Ģirts Zeidenbergs) vervējot jaunus pieteikumus uz pavalstniecību. 

    Vienīgi rafinēta, nobriedusi organizācija spētu izvērst gadu pēc gada šāda apjoma notikumu.  Šeit atklātā slepenā informācija lai kalpo visiem, kas nebaidās un kas manīgi vēro šī labsirdīgā reketa izplešanos un, pamatīgas atkarības veicinošu, iespiešanos visā mūsu sabiedrībā!

  • 12 Dec 2013 9:01 AM | Jolanta Mockus (Administrator)


     Sirsnīgi pateicamies visiem brīvprātīgajiem izpalīgiem, ziedotājiem, mūziķiem, saimniekiem, bārmeņiem, virtuves palīgiem, tirgotājiem, un citiem rūķīšiem  kas parūpējās par pasākuma norisi.
     Itsevišķs liels paldies loterijas sponsoriem un loterijas izkārtotājiem par vienreizēju loteriju šogad!  
     Paldies par atbalstu un lielo enerģijas ieguldījumu.  Tirdziņš bija FANTASTISKS! Manuprāt visi apmeklētāji bija ļoti apmierināti un neviens neaizgāja tukšām rokām. Milzīgs paldies arī organizatoriem.
     Mūsu tirdziņš ir izveidojies par visapmeklētāko sarīkojumu biedrības gadā. Bez izpalīgiem tas nav iespējams. Gaidām brīvprātīgos izpalīgus.  Ja Jums interesē, mēs joprojām meklējam enerģiskus komiteju vadītājus un izpalīgus, lūdzam pieteikties. Tikai kopīgiem spēkiem varēsim turpināt šo vienreizējo sarīkojumu un saglabāt šo vēsturisko namu.  Paldies!
     Gaidīsim Jūs visus arī nākamgad!
     TO ALL PHILADELPHIA SOCIETY OF FREE LETTS WINTER HOLIDAY FAIR AND MARKET SUPPORTERS!  We would like to thank everyone for another successful Winter Holiday Fair and Market fundraiser. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all the volunteers, supporters, musicians, cooks and bakers, kitchen and bar staff, vendors who generously donated their time, money and energy.  The proceeds will go a long way in helping the BLB.  We hope to see you again next year!
     A special thanx to our raffle creators and sponsors for a most spectacular and impressive raffle!

    Without the enormous help of our volunteers, The Fair would realistically be impossible to coordinate.  We are continuously looking for energetic committee chairs who could preside over each area of specialty.  A fun time and an enormous sense of accomplishment are complimentary to all volunteers.  If you are interested in lending a hand, please contact the BLB. Thank you!


  • 18 Oct 2013 1:41 PM | Jolanta Mockus (Administrator)

    „Latvians Abraod” (LaPa) Museum goes to the public in an „Antiques Roadshow” type event

    Maija Hinkle

                    On Sept. 22 a group of Philadelphia Latvians experienced an hitherto unknown event in Latvian society, which the organizers described as follows, „The ‘Latvians Abroad’ (LaPa) musuem meets the American TV program ‘Antiques Roadshow’.”

                    Just as for the popular TV program, people in Philadelphia were invited to bring their heirlooms to the event, significant belongings which they had brought with them from Latvia, or which represented some important aspect of the first years outside Latvia. But while in the TV program various experts try to determine on objects’ provenance and market value, the main role in the LaPa Roadshow belonged to the heirloom owners. Each owner told the audience about their object – its history, origin and significance in his life. After that a panel of museum specialists evaluated the relevance of the heirloom to museums, its significance in a historical, cultural, societal or personal context and how it might be used in museum expositions.

                    The stories and heirlooms that were brought to the event were extremely interesting, valuable and ofttimes moving, for example, the children’s Christmas picture book, drawn by the artist Alfreds Kalniņš and written by the author Vera Čakare in late 1944 in Czeckoslovakia as they were fleeing from Latvia in World War II. The first eight pages depict the happy, joyous activities of a traditional Latvian Christmas during peacetime – the father brings a freshly cut Christmas tree from snowy woods, the childran bake gingerbread cookies, they learn poems to recite to Santa Klaus, decorate the Christmas tree and on Christmas eve, the whole family enjoys the gaily decorated tree and Santa Klaus distributes presents to the children. The last page of the book shows what is happening in Latvia at the time – soldiers behind barricades, explosions, bombs, grenades and above all, uncertaintly about what happens now. „No other Chistmas book in the world has such a negative, dark and hopeless ending,” said Jānis Čakars, the grandson of the author and owner of the book. Jānis plāns to republish the book and would appreciate information about the artist Alfreds Kalniņš. Jānis’ e-mail:

                    The other stories and heirlooms were just as significant. Andra Zvargule read excerpts from letters, which her mother, the beloved actress of the Latvian National Theater, Nina Melbarde, had written to her sister about daily life during the flight and in DP camps. Andra also displayed a doll in Latvian folk costume, made by her aunt in DP camp and a very popular present in the camps. Peter Dajevskis brought a wooden bench from the horse-drawn carriage with which his mother, the popular National Theater actess, Helga Gobzine, had travelled from her home in Western Latvia to the DP camp Meerbeck in the British Zone in Germany during World War II. How the horses and carriage managed to travel on a German army ship is a story all its own.

                    Several people brought beautiful skirts from traditional Latvian folk costumes to the Roadshow. As Maija Medne’s family fled from Latvia at the end of World War II, her mother had used the beautiful skirt as a bag for packing clothes. Since yarn was very difficult to get in refugee camps after the war, Inta Grunde’s mother had unravelled a family’s heirloom blanket, and used the yarn to weave the traditional skirt. Edgars Dale showed a beautiful crystal bowl, brought from Latvia by his Grandmother, and inscribed to his Grandfather, a few years before he was arrested and deported by the Soviet authorities in 1941, never to be seen again. Askols Zagars brought a big, beautiful painting, which his family had brought out from Latvia during World War II. The circus performer Frida Adamsons passed around her husband’s watch chain, made of Latvian silver coins from the 1930’s. Present day emigrants from Latvia were represented by Jolanta Mockas, who brought a set of porcelain coffee cups and pot, which she had obtained in Soviet Latvia after standing in line for a long time. When she had arrived at the front of the line, she was given a choice of only two things: the coffee set or some plates. As she had neither one, she chose the coffee cup set.

                    The heirlooms, which people took with them from Latvia, could be included in the „Latvian suitcase” exhibit, which LaPa staff are preparing for the celebration of „Rīga – European Capital of Culture” next year.  The exhibit is scheduled to open in the former KGB building in central Riga from April 30 – September, 2014.

                    Andris Grunde introduced the audience to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Germany, which holds millions of personal documents from the World War II period. ITS is happy to research information and supply electronic copies of documents. Their internet address is:

                    The event was opened by a half hour power point presentation by Maija Hinkle about LaPa – it’s mission, activities, exhibits, present projects and immediate plans. Further information about the museum can be obtained from their web site: , on their Facebook page „Latvians abroad – museum and research centre” or by writing to

                    The panel of museum specialists consisted of Lilita Bergs, the Director of the American Latvian Association Latvian Museum, Maija Hinkle, the former President of the Board of Directors of LaPa, and Ints Dzelzgalvis, the former Vice-president of LaPa. The museum consultant Peter Dajevskis greatly enriched the discussions. We thank Sandra Milevski for the brilliant idea to combine the LaPa museum with the popular TV program and Laila Gansert for expertly chairing the Roadshow event. Judging from the comments by the participants and later also by other community members, the LaPa Roadshow was a great success. „You need to stage another LaPa Roadshow in Philadelphia, since now people know what this whole thing is about. I have some heirlooms at home that I’d like to brind to the Roadshow, too,” were comments that the organizers heard several times. Now they just have to think of how to translate „Roadshow” into Latvian. Up to now it seems to be one of those nontranslatable words.

                    The members of the LaPa Museum are ready to bring the LaPa Roadshow to other Latvian communities in the United States and Canada. Interested parties can contact Maija Hinkle, on by called her at 607-273-1319.


    Legends for photographs:

    • 1.       Jānis Čakars talks and shows the children’s picture book „Merry Christmas,” created in Czekhoslovakia in 1944 during flight from Latvia. Photo Maija Hinkle.
    • 2.       First page in the picture book „Merry Christmas.” Photo Maija Hinkle.
    • 3.       Last page in the picture book „Merry Christmas.” Photo Maija Hinkle.
    • 4.       Andra Zvārgule reads her mother’s letters about her flight from Latvia and life in DP camps.
    • 5.       Doll in Latvian traditional folk costume, made in refugee DP camp. Photo Lilita Bergs.
    • 6.       Peter Dajevskis brought the seat from the horse-drawn carriage, in which his mother left Latvia.
    • 7.       Inta Grunde demonstrated the traditional Latvian skirt, that her mother wove in DP camp.
    • 8.       Jolanta Mockus’ tea service, bought in Soviet Latvia. Photo Jolanta Mockus.    
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 

The Philadelphia Society of Free Letts (The Latvian Society) 531 N. 7th Street • Philadelphia PA • 19123-3501 | (215) 922-9798

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software