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Edward Paikens papers

Identifier: IHRC2013


This collection of papers documents Paikens’ life primarily from the time of his departure from Latvia in 1944 to the time of his mother’s death in 1977. A number of identification cards and report cards give evidence to his immediate post-war activities, but the bulk of information comes from his collected correspondence with his mother in Latvia, which began in 1956. Among the letters are scattered receipts for money and packages sent, as well as a few photographs. The letters, including copies of letters sent by Paikens, provide a rare look at life in rural Latvia in the 1950s and 1960s when life under the Soviet rule was particularly difficult. The photographs at the end of the collection are mostly from Paikens’ trans-Atlantic journey from Germany to the United States on the ship Ernie Pyle.

Selected items from the collection have been digitized and are available in the University of Minnesota's U Media Archive and on the Digitizing Immigrant Letters project website (see "Digital material" below).


  • 1917-1995
  • 1917-1995


Language of Materials

In English and Latvian.


Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA Archives.


Edward Paikens (nee Eduards Paikens Dzilna) was born on May 27, 1917 in the northwest region of Latvia, not far from Aluskne. He left the country for school in Riga, where he attended the Riga Technical Institute until 1944 when he was sent to work at the A.E.G. factory in Thorn in occupied Poland (today's Torun) (in July) as a laborer by the occupying German forces. His father had died and his mother remained in Latvia. His brother Laimons was never heard from again.

After the war, Paikens spent the years prior to emigration to the United States in a displaced persons camp Insula in Strub near Berchtesgaden (in Bavaria). From June 1946 to March 1947, he attended courses in the camp, completing his secondary education at the level of "gymnasium." In March 1948, he received certificates from the International Refugee Organization administering the camp to work as draftsman, telephone mechanic, and machine operator (certification by the IRO Displaced Persons Professional Testing Board). In 1947, Edward Paikens joined the local "Alpenverein" (Alpine Club) in Berchtesgaden. Until January 1949, he was a member of the YMCA branch in the Insula camp. A copy of his embarkation card indicates the sailing date to the United States as February 10, 1949, aboard the S.S. Ernie Pyle, from Hamburg, Germany. The ship arrived in Boston on February 21 or 22, 1949. Edward Paikens was sponsored and assisted in his resettlement in the United States by the Lutheran Welfare Society which paid for his transportation from Boston to Minnesota. In March and April, 1949, Edward Paikens resided in Blakeley, Minnesota, a year later, in May, 1950, a letter from the Lutheran Resettlement Service of Minnesota was addressed to him in Minneapolis. He repayed the transportation loan of $57.72 from the Lutheran Welfare Society in June 1950. In Minneapolis, he met and married his wife Helen. He was granted U.S. citizenship in November, 1952, and lived in Minneapolis until his death on October 6, 1993.


5 linear inches

5 linear inches


Collection is organized into 4 series: Personal documents, Correspondence, Photographs and Miscellaneous materials


The papers of Edward Paikens were given to the IHRC in April 1995 by Helen Seeley of Golden Valley, Minnesota. Astra Apsitis processed the collection in 1995. Additional processing by Daniel Necas in 2005.

Inventory of the Edward Paikens papers.
IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area