The Chicago Latvian Association celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 13, 2010. Originally called the Chicago Latvian Club, it was founded by a group of 13 Latvian immigrants under the motto "Unity, Friendship, Philanthropy and Education." These words were the foundation for shaping and growing the Club's work.
Following its motto, the new organization held lectures, celebrated Latvian holidays, and hosted singing and plays along with other social events. An important mission was to provide help to the sick and destitute.
Around 1949, major changes occurred with a new wave of Latvian emigration from Europe to Chicago. These immigrants gradually took over leadership of the organization. All of the Club's activities thrived in this period with cultural activities in particular expanding considerably. The first Latvian Culture Days were held; the organization began supporting youth organizations and the Latvian school; and events continued to be held to mark holidays and days of remembrance.
In 1954, the Chicago Latvian Club was renamed the Chicago Latvian Association, because the term "club" no longer accurately described the organization's goals. Under the auspices of the Association, a funeral fund and academic discussion group were started, excursions were organized, and athletes and philatelists alike started their own groups.
Until Latvia regained independence in the early 1990s, the Association's work included political as well as social and cultural activities. Today, the Chicago Latvian Association supports Latvian cultural life in Chicago by organizing events (including in conjunction with other organizations) and donating funds to causes in both Latvia and in the Chicago Latvian community. The CLA also manages the Latvian Community Center building and finances.