The Latvian Society in Philadelphia is the oldest Latvian organization in the United States. A 501 (c) (3), it was officially incorporated as the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts and was established as a settlement house in 1892. Early Latvian immigrants were known as “Lettlanders,” the German language term ascribed to Latvians who fled oppression during Tsarist rule of Russia. Since its beginnings in the late nineteenth century, the Society has served multiple generations of Latvians seeking freedom and a new life in the United States. In the post World War II era, the Society served as a social organization for displaced persons starting a new life in Philadelphia. During the Soviet era, the Society actively advocated for Latvian independence.

After 1991, in the new era of a free and independent Latvia, the Society now serves as a community center, a research facility and as an arts venue for Latvian performers visiting from overseas as well as for Philadelphia based theater companies. With recent improvements and upgrades to its building, the Society has provided its multi-use performing space for concerts, film events as well as a forum for speakers commemorating and interpreting Latvian heritage. Joint commemorative events are also held at the North 7th Street location with the Society’s Baltic neighbors from the Lithuanian and Estonian communities.

Having been a part of Philadelphia’s diverse immigrant communities for over 125 years, the Society is expanding its outreach to familiarize Philadelphians with Latvian art, music, literature, cultural traditions and history.

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

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