The collection of the History Department comprises about 273 000 items: documents, maps, memoirs, books, photographs, photonegatives, domestic items, textiles, religious art, paintings etc., that cover the period from the 14th century onwards. The Department holds collections that document the life of exiled Latvians, the repressions of 1941 and 1949 and the lives of Latvians in deportation, and Latvia’s educational history. A distinguished collection is the 14th –19th century wooden church sculptures, documents from 14th–16th centuries written on parchment, the album of A.G.Bose with more than 200 portraits of the parishioners from Ēvele as sketched in the mid-19th century, the 17th–18th century portraits of the Dukes of Courland and local nobility, the 65 folders with descriptions, photographs and drawings on Latvian cultural, historical and natural monuments as gathered by natural scientist-geographer O.E. Šmits between 1890 and 1910. There also is a collection of gifts presented to president Guntis Ulmanis during official visits.
The Museum’s collection of photonegatives, some 126 000 in all, is one of the largest in Latvia. It reflects Latvian history from the late 19th century to the present day. Its oldest negatives, on glass plates, are those from natural scientist and geographer O.E. Šmits which capture impressions of Latvian cultural life, architectural monuments and scenes of rural life. Unique are also the glass negatives created during the Monuments Board 1920–1940 ethnographic expedition which include images of farmer and artisan lifestyles, their tools and work practices. A special part of the collection is dedicated to photonegatives of Latvian archaeological monuments and the history of excavations from 1930 until the present day. The collection of photonegatives of nature, political history and culture events is being continually supplemented.