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Memorial Hall Library

Translating Vital Records for Genealogy: Polish, German, Latin, and Russian

Latin Language Roman Catholic Baptismal Register

Has your family history research hit a brick wall because you need help making sense of handwritten genealogical records in Polish, German, Latin, and/or Russian? In Their Words: A Genealogist's Translation Guide is a series of books that contain some helpful tools to continue documenting your ancestry. It can be difficult enough to understand old records and documents even when they've been perfectly typed, but when Polish, German, Latin, or Russian words have been misspelled, it really adds to the challenge. These books will be very useful in your research.

The books in this series include information about:

  • Handwriting samples for cursive and print styles over time
  • Phoentics and spelling rules
  • Unique sounds and orthography (spelling conventions) 
  • Common spelling error suggestions
  • Lists of terms frequently found in documents from the country or region
  • Record examples for civil, military, and church purposes
  • Relevant government/administrative record sources
  • Historical border/nationality definitions
  • Guides for composing letters of inquiry to foreign archives, libraries, and churches.

Find these books on the microfilm cabinet on Level 1 or ask a librarian for help!