From – Translation Guidance – Russian, German, Polish, Latin

The opening messages on our Forum were posted in 2007. Among the first posts there appeared requests for translations of records in Polish and Russian.

In 2009 the Russian Records Translations thread was created. It was possible thanks to the generous help of Ryszard “Staripolak64”.

Soon after we created Polish Records Translations thread. After that followed Latin Records Translations and the most recent thread is German Records Translations.

The translations became the most popular sections in our Forum through these years. There is a handful of volunteers who are actively engaged in helping others by sharing their time and precious knowledge. Without them, the translation sections wouldn’t exist at all.

On top of that, sometimes volunteers who do the translations use their experience and knowledge to provide context and historical background to the dry facts we learn from records. The best example are posts written by Dave Nowicki ‘dnowicki’. Aga recently gathered some of the most interesting articles written by Dave and created the blog post: “Not all priests are saints. Or What I have learned from Latin records translations.” .

A number of translation requests is continually growing which means more work for translators. I want to remind that CONTRIBUTORS ARE NOT FINANCIALLY REWARDED for sharing their time and knowledge. They help because they want to.

Together with all the active and former translators we recently discussed current problems they are facing. The result of the discussion is set of rules regarding translation threads we decided to introduce.

Our goal is to propose some standards and improve the whole workflow regarding translations process. We hope that thanks to following the guidelines the whole experience will be more efficient and pleasant for everyone. Translators’ work will be better used and a bigger number of people will have the opportunity to use their help without burdening them with additional work.

Of course, all constructive suggestions and remarks are welcome.

Records Translations Guidelines

1. Check first if you can do the translation by yourself. It may turn out to that it is not that difficult! And the process of deciphering old handwriting describing life events of your ancestors by yourself may bring great satisfaction and joy.

There are handouts tools helping in doing translations of Polish, German, Latin and even Russian records. Examples:

Russian. A very useful manual prepared by a lady who taught herself reading Russian records:, birth:, marriage: death: Also:,
And of course series of great textbooks by Fred Hoffman and Jonathan Shea: “In Their Words”

2. If you managed to decipher only a few words ask for assistance in understanding the remaining part of the record. Even if you didn’t manage to read a single word by yourself, provide ALL the information that you already know from the document (who, what, where, when, name of the parish the record was found, religion, etc.); especially if it’s been indexed. Also include any anecdotal information – this may provide some clues and some kind of a starting point for ‘hunting’ records.

3. If not providing a URL/link, then crop the image down so that the record can be as readable as possible for our volunteers.

4. Unless somebody specifically asks for a full translation, translators will translate the essential facts (Date of event, Names and ages, Place and parish, any other useful information included e.g. name of first wife or husband if it is a second marriage, place of birth, names of parents for marriages.)

5. Be patient. If it is only possible, your records will be translated. Don’t hurry up translators.

6. If you wait long check in the history of your thread if your record was translated. It might happen that you didn’t notice the post with your translation.

7. Don’t upload again records your already uploaded! See points 5 and 6 above.

8. Upload your images in a vertical way (not horizontal or upside down!).

9. Don’t post your query in multiple genealogy forums simultaneously (e.g. in PolishOrigins Forum and in one or more of the FB groups). It’s discourteous to have people spending time doing the same translation without being aware of someone else already did it and their time was misused.

10. Please confirm that you saw the post with translation made for you. One of the volunteers dedicated their time and knowledge to do this and simple reaffirmation that you read it makes them aware that their time was well used.

11. Post no more than 5 translation requests a month and no more than 25 a year in given language.

12. If you need larger number of translations please contact us at . We will check internally how we (translators) can help in your specific request.

(The guidelines are also available on our website: )