Work Your Way There

It can be a challenge to read records in a foreign language. It is more of a challenge when the records are written in blank books with no lines and little guidance about what is in the record. Instead of starting your foreign-language research with those records, begin with a part of your family in records that are much later. In many European countries in the mid-to-late 19th century many records are written in pre-printed ledgers with printed column headings indicating the content of each column. The script in these records is more modern which also helps in the transcription and translation.

Once you are familiar with these records, start working your way back in time to when the records are less organized, the handwriting is even worse (probably), and the language a little different (perhaps).

Using land records in the United States is best done the same way. Become familiar with ones in the 1800s and 1900s before working on patents and other land documents from the 1600s and 1700s.