"In 1878 in the Moscow circle of Latvians, Valdemars again suggested us to set another step to extol the folk-poetry. Himself donating 60 roubles, he wished that from all aforementioned books as well as some manuscript collections the most beautiful and poetic songs were published and especially for broader public set in print."
Krisjanis Barons. Introduction to "Latvju Dainas",
This year can be considered as the starting year for "Latvju Dainas". Though the initial aim is a selection of best songs (meaning texts - in Herderian tradition), this Valdemars' sugestion lays the foundation of the popular edition. The limits of a selection can be abandoned when Aronu Matiss (in 1888) publishes a book entitled "Musu Tautas dziesmas" ("Our Folk-Songs"): "Meanwhile our young man-of-letters Aronu Matiss had on his own fulfilled the aforementioned first aim of the Moscow Latvian circle [..] with clear poetic taste and good success. [..] A comprehensive f. song edition now could wait and grow in amount through this." (ibid, p. VI)
As the great edition now was "waiting", Krisjanis Barons used the mentioned above Arons' edition as a source in his edition, but it is not the only one. Barons has the "aforementioned books", editions compiled by both German and Latvian collectors at his disposal. And there are a number of them.
In 1844 Georg Buettner, 1805-1883, under the name of Lettisch-Literaerisch Gesellschaft (Latvian Literary Society, composed of Germans, also known as the Society of Friends of Latvians) publishes a book entitled "Latviesu lauzu dziesmas un zinges" ("The Songs and zinges of Latvian People") with 2854 texts of different length (zinge obviously used as the name for the longer texts, not the more recently originated songs as in modern tradition). The edition has an appendix Erklaerungen und Anmerkungen (Clarifications and Remarks).
In 1874 and 1875 the same Society prints in Leipzig two volumes of "Latviesu tautas dziesmas", to celebrate its anniversary. This edition was intended to comprise four volumes and contain all of the material collected, still it was never completed and only 4793 of the expected number of 10 thousand texts are published. This edition contains also the texts published by Buettner, it was edited by August Bielenstein (1826-1907).
In 1868 Janis (Ivan) Sprogis (1833-1916) publishes in Vilnius "Pamiatniki latyshskogo narodnogo tvorchestva" ("Monuments of Latvian Folk Art", in Russian) with 1857 song texts and 52 riddles, as well as some proverbs. All texts are printed in cyrillic characters, with Russian translations.
In 1873 Fricis Brivzemnieks-Treuland, 1846-1907 with support from Russian scholars (on the titlpage of the book there is no hint to Brivzemnieks) publishes both the materials collected by him and those sent to him by collectors he urged. It can be considered that Brivzemnieka field-work trip to Latvia in 1869 commissioned by the Imperial Society of Friends of Natural Sciences, Anthropology and Ethnography is the first folklore expedition to Latvia. Brivzemnieks publishes 1118 texts with translations into Russina and comments, again using cyrillic alphabet for Latvian.
In 1881 Brivzemnieks publishes proverbs (1707 texts), riddles (1682) and spells (ca. 700). In this edition he uses a new orthography - with Latin characters and specific signs for diphtongs. A similarly built orthography is used also by Valdemars and Barons.
In 1890 Eduards Volters (1856-1941) publishes material from Latgale - descriptions of traditions, festivals and the texts connected with those, as well as Russian translations of the texts. He uses references to editions by Brivzemnieks.
Thus "Latvju Dainas" have a really substabtially preliminary material to draw upon and Barons indeed has books to refer to.