Genealogy Q&A: Translating Old Records

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter Plus, you’ll receive our 10 Essential Genealogy Research Forms PDF as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Q. I’m researching my Danish ancestors in parish records but can’t figure out what the headings mean. How can translate these terms?

A. An excellent place to start is the Danish Word List at FamilySearch, which covers most terms you’d likely come across in these records.

You’ll also find a guide to terms, abbreviations and symbols common in Danish genealogy records here.

For more complex translations, including whole pages, you can turn to Google Translate. Click on the dropdown arrow next to “Detect language,” choose Danish, and paste the text in the box below. You can also type or paste website addresses here to translate entire pages. If you have a Danish-language file on your computer, click “translate a document” to select the file for translation. Google has dramatically improved its Translate app using artificial intelligence, so if you’ve been disappointed with past results, it’s worth a fresh visit.

These tools to help you translate your ancestors’ foreign-language records are now available in Family Tree Shop: