20 June 2017

Tips & Tools to Help You Translate Foreign Genealogy Records

There are tons of Facebook genealogy groups devoted to very specific readers. If you search, you can find a group devoted to your area of research: Southern Italian Genealogy, Hesse Germany Genealogy Group, Polish Texan Genealogy, French Canadian Genealogy. You name it!

In these groups you will find many people seeking translations of foreign birth, marriage and death records. And there are countless people willing to help.

But you can become a self-sufficient translator of your own documents. Often the hardest part is figuring out the letters themselves. It helps tremendously to know the types of words you're looking for.

If you learn the genealogical keywords, numbers, months, days, etc., in the language you need, the words will become clearer to you.

When you're stuck on a letter or two, search the rest of the document for any other markings that may be the same letter. When you have an educated guess, plug it into Google Translate and see what you get.

Don't be intimidated! You just have to know what you're looking for.
Don't be intimidated! You just have to know what you're looking for.

Here are several excellent resources to help you learn the words you need to know in four languages. If the language you need is not here, visit the FamilySearch Wiki for more.

Still getting stuck? Join a Facebook genealogy group for your ethnicity. You'll find a wealth of knowledge and very helpful genealogists.


  1. OK, how do I translate Russian when I don't have the proper keyboard

    1. See if this virtual Cyrillic keyboard helps. It looks promising. http://winrus.com/keyboard.htm