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History of ALA

"...the organization's first priority is coordinating the work of the various local organizations, secondly, as required, to speak in the name of the overall Latvian community, and finally, to undertake those tasks that the local communities are unable or unwilling to undertake."

- Dr. Peteris Lejins, ALA's first Board Chairperson


The American Latvian Association was founded on February 24, 1951. The initiator of the concept was the Latvian ambassador to the USA, Julijis Feldmanis. On April 15, 1950, 79 representatives from the major Latvian centers, such as, New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, etc. met to address the initiative. The representatives decided: 1) to found a national Latvian organization; 2) the organization's overall goals; and 3) the organization's basic structure. And most importantly, they established an organizing committee to work out the organization's statutes and to call for a congress of delegates to formally found ALA.

Julijis Feldmanis worked diligently and unsparingly during this stage to realize his initiative for a unified Latvian organization. Numerous meetings were held in the various communities (most importantly, May 24, 1950 in Philadelphia and August 5, 1950 in New York) to gain local support and to work out the founding statutes. Mr. Feldmanis reiterated many times "that the main goal of the association will be the fight for Latvia's freedom."

115 delegates participated at the founding congress. They represented local Latvian organizations and churches in the USA with 11,260 members. Julijis Feldmanis was elected to lead the congress. On his recommendation that the statutes be accepted without change the delegates agreed and ALA was founded.

ALA's history has been extensively covered in two books, obtainable from ALA:

  • ALA 35, 1951-1986, Bruno Albats and Visvaldis V. Klive
  • ALA 1986-2000, Anita Terauda and Irene Karule