Friday, February 3, 2012

Learning German - the fun of researching records written in another language

At some point or other, if we're lucky, we end up depending on records in a language other than our own when we do our family history research. Even records from English-speaking countries can end up being in Latin. I mentioned in another post how I was helping my friend, who is Dominican, with some of her family history, so the records I was looking at were in Spanish. But I speak and read Spanish. I took it in school for five years, and I've spent more than 20 years surrounded by her Spanish-speaking family and friends.

German, however, is a whole other story. That's what I'm dealing with now, with my Stutzmann family line. In some ways, German is easier, because many of the words are extremely similar to their English counterpart. But looking at 19th- and 18th- century records, which is what I'm doing, and you have to factor in the completely different letters as well as the completely different way they wrote letters that we're familiar with, so that looking at these records can be like translating an alien language.

Nancy over at My Ancestors and Me has a great post with really helpful suggestions for resources on translating old German handwriting here and here. I've printed out some of the pages as cheat sheets because while I can recognize many of the proper nouns as names and places, I realize there's probably a lot of useful and important information I'm glossing over because I can't understand it. And looking at at least one of the records, I see a possible profession for Rudolph Schlick that I'd like to know.

So, it's always good to ask for help. And if you know something others don't, it's always good to help! And for anyone needing German handwriting resources, if you want to save time, definitely check out My Ancestors and Me.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention, Mary Ellen. I appreciate it.

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    1. It was my pleasure - your suggestions really helped me out a lot!

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