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# Tuesday, April 21, 2009
When Your Ancestor's Records Are in Another Language
Posted by Diane

Q. Where can I get help understanding genealogy records written in my ancestors' native language?   

A. How to read foreign-language genealogy records is probably in the top 10 topics Family Tree Magazine readers ask us about. Here are some tips:

First, see if you can puzzle out meanings using the genealogy word lists on FamilySearch. (Click a letter of the alphabet to find resources for that country, then scroll down until you find the right word list.) You’ll get some background on the language and alphabet, and the words for common genealogy terms such as birth, death and names of months. This may be enough to help you read, say, a microfilmed register of baptisms.

An online translator such as Google's is handy for words or phrases. But online translators aren’t ideal for passages from historical records—languages change quickly, and online translation tools are designed for modern alphabets and usage (and even then, you'll often get pretty rough translations).

If you’re dealing with a complex document or script (Fraktur, a German script, is notoriously difficult to translate), you may need to find a translator.

In this FamilyTreeMagazine.com article, researcher Nick D’Alto offers tips on hiring and working with a genealogy translator. No offense to your niece who got an A in Italian this quarter, but he advises seeking one who’s familiar with historical documents.

The Association for Professional Genealogists has a directory of professional researchers who offer translation services or have access to translators (click a name for specifics on the person’s services). Many of these folks have earned genealogical certifications and/or have references you can check.

Someone from an ethnic genealogy society (do a Google search or check Cyndi’s List to find one) may be able to help you or to recommend a translator, or you can ask members of an online forum focused on your ancestor’s homeland. A university ethnic studies department also might be able to put you in touch with a native speaker.


genealogy basics | international research | migration
Tuesday, April 21, 2009 7:40:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, April 08, 2009
How to Use PERSI for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Q. What is PERSI and how do I use it in my family history?

A. PERSI (short for Periodical Source Index) is a database of references to articles in history and genealogy magazines and journals published in the United States and Canada as far back as 1800. (A searchable catalog of periodical titles is here.)

You can search PERSI for, say, a surname, town or topic, and results will show citations for articles related to your search term.

Examples of resources you might find using PERSI include a historical society journal article that mentions your ancestor, an out-of-print magazine about a family hometown, or a how-to magazine with hints for doing research in the old country.

Note PERSI doesn’t have the articles themselves—rather, it has the title, date and other information that will help you find the article of interest.

The PERSI database is searchable through HeritageQuest Online, a genealogy data service available free through many public libraries (check your library’s Web site or ask at the reference desk) or at Allen County, Ind., public library location. (The Allen County library’s genealogy staff compiled and updates PERSI.)

Subscription Web site Ancestry.com also has PERSI, though its version isn’t as up-to-date as the others mentioned.

Once you find a citation for an article you want, see if the publication is available through your library or another library near you. If not, ask if the library can borrow it (or at least get photocopies) through interlibrary loan. Another option: The Allen County Public Library has the periodicals that are indexed in PERSI; you can order photocopies for a fee using the form linked on this page.


genealogy basics | printed sources
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:31:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]