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           March, 2006

      Carol Sanderson,
      Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor

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  Reading Foreign Languages
- by Charles Hansen

        A little over ten years ago, I started concentrating on my grandfather's family. I knew he had been born in Denmark in 1870. I signed up with Heritage Quest for their Christmas tour to Salt Lake City and the Family History Library. Part of the cost was help from several professional researchers. I went to the one specializing in Scandinavian research, and showed him a book in which my grandfather had written his address in Danish. The address included the parish where he was born, so with a couple of quick checks on the computer I had a list of microfilms to check to see if I could find my grandfather's family.

        The records were all in Danish and with some help from the professional, I found my grandfather and his nine brothers and sisters in the civil records. Even without knowing the language or the script used, it is easy to work your way through civil records. Names are the same in any language, dates are easy to recognize usually in a column.

        On Wednesday, our group had a field trip to see the AGLL (American Genealogical Lending Library) plant, where they copied microfilms, printed books and microfilmed records. While there, I found a couple of books on Danish research, one called Scandinavian Genealogical Research and the second called Genealogical Guidebook & Atlas of Denmark. The second book is great for finding where your family came from, but the first book shows sample records, samples of the Danish script, a Danish to English dictionary, Danish names, census samples and occupations. While the dictionary was not huge, it did help me to be able to read many of the records I had already copied. I later got a more complete Danish to English dictionary. Since I was on Prodigy then, I would wander by the Danish bulletin board and practice my Danish. I never got very fast at it, but could usually read the posts there. Sadly when Prodigy Classic ended the foreign language bulletin boards closed.

        A couple of years later at one of the conferences I went to, they had a session on reading the German Script. Since I had found a German ancestor by then, I took the class. I should have recognized the teacher, Ruth Ellen Maness as she writes a Scandinavian column for the Heritage Quest Magazine, but I did not until I got to the class. She went through a lot of examples of German script and how closely it was related to the Danish script I had been reading in the records I had copied at Salt Lake City a couple of years before and the other records I had copied at our local Family History Center. I had heard from several people how hard it is to read the old German Script, but I thought it was real easy after reading the parish records from Denmark, some that were so shaky, having been written by an aged priest.

        Whichever country you are researching in will require you to learn to read the language and possibly the script used by the people that recorded the records. However, there are guides for every country to help you. The LDS has research guides on-line. The internet has numerous sites for translating foreign languages. The people on the old Prodigy foreign languages bulletin boards really laughed at these translation sites, as they were grammatically correct, but not necessarily the correct translation. Learning to translate for yourself may help your research.

  A Family Puzzle
- by Carol Sanderson

        Several years ago, I met a cousin whom I knew of but had never met. His mother and I had been close in our youth. As seems to be the case, sometimes, we lost touch with each other but knew what was happening in each other's life through our mothers who were sisters.

        This young man was overjoyed to find some cousins...for reasons unknown to either of us; he had not been told much of family. I think it was after his mother passed away that he became interested in the family on her side. My brother had told me that Kyle (I will not use his real name) was interested in genealogy and would be very appreciative of any information I could give him. I got in touch with him found out what he specifically néeded and then sent it to him.

        We have kept in touch through computers and he and his wife visited once when we were staying about an hours ride away. We have talked on the phone too. All these times conversation usually turned to family and a problem he had.

        When he was around fourteen, his maternal grandparents took him with them when they went on a cruise and a visit to Scotland. His maternal great grandparents were from there. He remembers visiting a family with not the same name as his Scottish forebears. There was a young man in that family about his age and they became fast friends. Kyle would always say that the two of them were sure there was a family relationship but didn't know where and neither were having much luck in finding it.

        This past summer, he told me about a tape he had made of pictures and documents he had found in an aunt's house while he was cleaning it out after her death. I expressed an interest in it and he sent me a copy. All the documents and pictures were to be sent to another cousin who had a closer relationship to the people in the pictures. I got the tape and looked at it. He had done a good job of figuring out who each one was from the material he had. This also proved his relationship to these people. After looking at it, I put it up and sort of forgot about it. One day when I was cleaning, I ran across it and decided to play it again. Something about it was troubling me. I went over his work again and yes, it was correct. It mentioned his mother and his maternal cousin and aunt and uncle. Once again, I put it away but it kept coming back into my mind...I think someone was trying to tell me something.

        One night, while sitting at my computer, I could not get this out of my mind so I quit what I was doing. I went to the RootsWeb site and plugged my uncle's name into their World Connect database. This was the first time I had used it, as I am not sure that everything one finds there is fact...something that led me to mistrust all of it. It wasn't but a minute and I had found my uncle or someone with his name. He had the right spouse and the right children and everything else was as I knew it. From there I found Kyle's great grandparents both having emigrated from Scotland.

        Now I knew what had been driving me to this. The great grandmother's maiden name was that of the family that Kyle had visited so many years ago. However, I couldn't link her to this other family, even though the last name was the same. Kyle put me in touch with the man in Scotland (I will call him Ian). He sent me copies of birth, death and marriage certificates from the paternal side of his family. As I looked at that data, I could see how this particular family and that of my uncle had used the naming patterns of the Scots. I have asked him for the names of his grandfather's siblings as I think that will be where we find the common ancestor.

        At the same time, I have written to the person who had submitted the data for that tree to RootsWeb to see if he could help me with those names too. I am hoping that in a short time these two men will have the answer to exactly where their relationship is. This, I hope, will be an answer to their thirty some odd years wait.

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