Sourcing Records for EU Citizenship from International Archives

People’s fascination with family history has been growing over the last few years with more and more people investing time and money into building their family trees and finding long-lost family members. There is a plethora of information in online and physical archives. As hard as it is already, it’s one thing to find those records but to be able to read them is another. So what happens if you don’t understand what the records say?

One of the stumbling blocks for family history buffs is that old records are created in languages they cannot read. This includes Yiddish, old German, Latin, old Russian, or Arabic. Most are handwritten meaning that they’re practically undecipherable to modern-day readers. These records range from baptismal records to birth, marriage and death certificates and can include residential, census or property and land records.

Whether you want to use ancestral research to build your family tree or reclaim your EU citizenship, understanding the content of these documents can be essential to be to continue your exploration. Our translators carefully examine records they’re to translate, often finding key information on the margins or hidden between the lines. They can tell a lot about a bearer of the document, including the quality of their handwriting and can offer you additional insights and background information.

Over the years, we’ve discovered many interesting facts within the margins of a document. At Polaron, we literally read in-between the lines. For instance, for one of our clients we learned that her grandfather had a twin that died at birth through a tiny annotation in one of the columns. The document was created in Poland under the Russian partition so in old-Cyrillic but the annotation was in Yiddish and required collaboration from our Yiddish translator.

Our client was never told about this from family, prior to us uncovering these details. Yet, with this new information our client was then able to travel to Poland and find the grave of  her grandfather’s twin in a family crypt at the Jewish cemetery in Lodz. This was quite a life changing journey for our client. Before that, she had never been to Poland and didn’t think that she would be able to find any traces of her family since they immigrated to Australia in the 1930s. We were delighted that our translator’s eagle eye was able to come up with this unique information.

But of course, translating archival texts isn’t just for amateur sleuths. Our translation team have worked with academic researchers, museums, archival institutions, governments, publishing companies, journalists, and many others who used our translations in their publications, reports, and even films. Letters, vital records, residential registers, diaries, books, and transcripts – we’ve done it all.

Digging into the meaning of archival texts and handwritten documents can have immense value to future generations. Archival texts provide context to our history, as told through the voices of people who lived and witnessed events of days gone by. By translating this information, we can pass on knowledge.

Efforts to digitize archival records, individuals’ fascination with their ancestries, and the need to preserve historical records mean that this highly specialized field is booming. It requires time, patience, and creativity but Polaron’s NAATI-certified and international sworn translators are well known for their attention to detail and passion for translating archival records. Translating old records is a great socio-cultural experience that can help you explore history, learn more about your ancestors, and inspire others.

For more information about translating your archival records and how it can help you better connect with your ancestors, contact our translations team by emailing us at translations@polaron.com.au or by calling us at 1300 88 55 61.

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