Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Genealogy Solutions — Using Online Translators

The box went from my great-grandparents' house to their eldest son, William. Upon William's death, his widow, Louise, gave the box to my parents. Because the papers in the box were all in German, my parents gave the box to my sister, who had taken two years of high school German. My sister dutifully stored the box of German papers on a shelf in the closet. And there the box sat half-forgotten gathering dust.

A few years ago, when family members started asking me when I was going to get around to researching the Schrader side of the family, the subject of the box came up in conversation. I hadn't known of its existence, and frankly when the box first came into my family's possession in the early 1980s I wouldn't have given it much thought anyway. We were all delighted to find that my wonderful sister still had the box — in fact, she knew exactly where the box was.

So Sis got the box down from the closet and brought it over to my house, so I could go through it, catalog it and scan copies of the documents into my computer, where they would be backed up onto a DVD disc. Even without knowledge of any German, I could tell I had a treasure trove of information. Using the language tool on Google, I was able to understand some of the official looking documents. I could type a word in German and get its English translation.

For those of you out there who might need to look up a foreign word yourselves, you can find Google's language tools on this page: http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en

You can translate the following languages into English at this Web site:

1. French
2. German
3. Italian
4. Portuguese
5. Spanish

There are also beta versions of the following languages:

1. Arabic
2. Chinese
3. Japanese
4. Korean
5. Russian

Other Web sites that also offer similar features are:

1. Babel Fish Translation — http://babelfish.altavista.com/
2. SDL/Free Translation — http://www.freetranslation.com/
3. Prompt Online Translator — http://www.online-translator.com/text.asp?lang=en
4. InterTran — http://www.tranexp.com:2000/Translate/result.shtml
5. Poltran.com — http://www.poltran.com/

I have used both Babel Fish and SDL as well as the Google translators. Though none is perfect — each leaves a little to be desired — they helped me communicate with a German gentleman who was researching the Gleffe/Gliewe family name. (Gleffe was my great-grandmother Schrader's maiden name.) Sometimes I was only able to get the gist of what he was telling me, but communicating with Jörg definitely helped me move my research forward.

The InterTran page has the most language translations offered such as Romanian, Icelandic and Croatian to name a few. The Poltran site specializes in Polish to English and vice versa.

Some of the translation sites also offer you the ability to type in a Web address to translate the Web page from another language into English. In this manner, I was able to find a picture of the actual church in Budow that is mentioned in the document you see in the picture associated with this post.

The document lists my great-grandparents Leo Schröder and Emma Gleffe Schröder, along with their sons, Wilhelm and Max. The first column lists birth dates, the second is the baptismal date, the third column is for confirmation into the church, and the final date is their marriage date.

These records were copied from the Church in Budow. Budow was located in the Kreis (county) Stolp in the province of Pomerania in Germany.

It really is a small world. Imagine being able to go online to find a picture of a church where my great-grandparents were baptized and confirmed in the last part of the 19th century in a foreign country. This is even more amazing when you realize that the German province of Pomerania no longer exists — the area where it once was located is now a part of Poland. The Internet is definitely a plus for any budding desktop genealogist.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 13, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online http://www.thenews-messenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BLOGS02

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