The book Jānis Krēsliņš – Researcher of Latvian Traditional Culture is devoted to the ethnographic and historical materials and art that were gathered together in the late 19th century by the Latvian artist, photographer, man of letters, social activist and enthusiastic collector of folklore and folk traditions, Jānis Krēsliņš (1865–? ). Total number of items held at The National History Museum of Latvia is 376.
All of Krēsliņš’ drawings and photographs came into being in 1894 and 1895, when he as a draughtsman took part in the Riga Latvian Society Science Commission expeditions to various regions of Latvia. The objective was to obtain materials for the First Latvian Ethnographic Exhibition which was being organised by the Riga Latvian Society and due to take place in 1896 during the Tenth All-Russian Archaeological Congress in Riga.
Jānis Krēsliņš was one of the most active organisers of the exhibition. The materials that he gathered are a valuable source of reference when seeking to throw light on many cultural historical issues. For example, his drawings have preserved invaluable information about rural building types, their elements of construction, the spread of typological and constructive elements and their unique features in various historical ethnographic areas of 19th century Latvia, about the construction of heating devices, traditional clothing and much else. As a photographer, Jānis Krēsliņš with his expressive photographs can be ranked among the foremost pioneers of documentary photography of the late 19th century.
The book is a compilation of all the drawings and photographs by Jānis Krēsliņš that the museum has in its possession. It must be especially emphasised that this has been a cooperative venture. The author of Chapter 1 – The drawings of Jānis Krēsliņš – a resource in the research of Latvian traditional culture is the Chief Custodian of the Manuscript, Drawing, Photograph and Document Collection of the National History Museum of Latvia, Sanita Stinkule; the author of Chapter 2 – The photographs by Jānis Krēsliņš as a portrait of the Latvian people is Associate Professor at the Latvian Academy of Art (Latgale Branch), Inta Pujāte, and finally, the author of Chapter 3 – Biography of Jānis Krēsliņš is Gunta Tuča, granddaughter of Georgs Krēsliņš (the brother of Jānis Krēsliņš) and also educational methodologist at the Ernsts Gliks State Gymnasium of Alūksne.