Need a German to English translator willing to take on a project

+3 votes
I have an old family journal (ledger? book? diary?) that seems to be about a line a day written from 1880-1889 in German handwritten cursive. It's maybe 100-200 pages of tiny cursive on paper thats about 9x11 sewn/bound together. I don't know if it's a personal record or possibly related to a store my family ran. It was handed down through my paternal line great grandfather, but Im not sure which of his branches it came from. There were a couple different branches from Germany (Hesse and Wurttenbug), but in 1880 I think most of his lines should have been in the Ohio/Michigan areas. I'm very glad it survived my great grandfather's basement and the flooding he occasionally had, so I'm hoping I can get all the pages scanned to be able to preserve the writing, but the pages are slightly longer than the scanner I have available will do, so I may have to scan each page twice to get all the information. My family would be very grateful for any help so we can get this correctly translated and know what it can tell us. I have the first couple pages scanned to give you guys an idea of the scope of the project.


Inside Cover Page:

Page One:

Page Two:

Page Three:

Page Four:

Page Five:

I really hope the links are ok for you guys to check out, I couldn't figure out a better way to insert photos into the forum chat
in Genealogy Help by Allison Schaub G2G6 Mach 1 (14.6k points)
edited by Allison Schaub
If anyone can even read the first couple pages to give me an idea if it's a personal or a business thing, I'd really appreciate any info.
This is a tough one to read. I just tried to flip through it. Often I could decipher only some words and not the whole phrase...

Quite often he talks about the wheater (e.g., it was a sunny day. It was windy) and he also names places he or a person / family member went to at this particular day. Often a place / person called Adrian? is mentioned. And he also seems to talk about getting wood from the forest or doing some plowing...

He often mentions the following persons: Wilhelm H. and John Witt
Thank you! I don't know of any family named Adrian, but nearby is an Adrian, Michigan. The names are very helpful. I don't know if they correspond to any known family, but that's a great lead to dig into and try to figure out who exactly was the author.
From what I read Adrian seems to refer rather to place. So this might be the Adrian nearby. The authors mentions that he / the children went to church in Adrian and goes there on several other occasions. Therefore I assume he must have lived rather close to the city. Otherwise he wouldn´t have done the trip that often.

Maybe you should try to post your request in a german speaking genealogical forum. There might be some more people around with the ability and time to help. The website is entirely in German but you might try to have it automatically translated and ask for help there...

PS: It says Tagebuch on the second page. Yes, it´s a diary. I would say a farmers diary about how the whether was, what he did and who came to visit...
If you could convert it to a pdf file that can be highlighted, copied and pasted (not all can do this), it may make it easier to accomplish.

Just a thought
Manuela- thank you for the information and the link. I've shared the journal over there, so hopefully they can help. Hopefully the people there can bear with me using Google's webpage translation app. Knowing the place Adrian can help me rule out the half of the family that would have been in Ohio at the time, and also some I know lived in Monroe Michigan and worked and went to church there. So I think I can narrow it down to the most likely author being my fourth great grandfather, John Schwab, or someone closely related to him.

The Schaub line (yes we had a Schwab marry a Schaub) was in Monroe the whole time as far as I can find, but the Schwab's were from Lenawee County, which includes Adrian. Frances Schwab moved to Monroe when she married and their son was born in 1898. Since it seems like the author is male, it wouldn't be Frances. Her father, John, is one of my brick walls, although I know her mother (Catherine Miller)'s side, so if this is his it's pretty exciting. Frances also had three brothers and two sisters (one who became a nun if I'm remembering correctly). I dont know much about her father or his possible siblings. I didn't really know where to look in Lenawee for any records, so knowing Adrian may be their parish is really helpful. And if a daughter is religious enough to be a nun, there's a good chance the whole family was Catholic. I may have to check out some of the Catholic churches up in Adrian to see if there are records.

Ron- I never have any luck with pdf's when I've had to use them, but I'm willing to try. With how my scanner works, I think it would just show up as a picture inside the pdf. I think you are asking about the programs that can read it as text? It'd be wonderful if a computer program could just scan it in as German writing/text and Google could help me translate it, but I dont know what those are and if any are free software.
Or are you thinking so you could just add the last inch onto the page instead of having two images?
I just found John's potential parents in family search records! Joseph and Mary Schwab. Mary's Maiden name is Witt! So John Witt could easily be a relative too! Im so excited you guys! I figured it would flesh out stuff in a line I knew, not break down a huge brick wall! I can't wait to find out what else it says!

1 Answer

0 votes
Allison, hello--One of your respondents remarked that the text of your is hard to read. Sometimes it's the copier-machine's problem. If so take it to a copy shop that has at least one copier that gives very clear images when the others are only average. It's a huge help to be able to read easily. And when you receive another person's edits and changes, you will NEED to see that the original meaning of the words are contained in the revisions.

About translating the ledger, the length of it will add to the cost and to your knowledge about the person and the milieu in which it was written. First, make TWO COPIES of the new draft you'd like someone to work on, one which is left alone--to copy later if needed. Before copying the entire book, hand-number each page. Put each in a separate folder, retaining (for yourself) the original and one copy, and you'll give the second copy to your editor/translator.

Ask your translator to use a #2 pencil for all comments or edits on the pages of his/her copy. Any longer passages that are revised can be typed with clear page & paragraph references to the original material they come from so that they can be positioned properly in the copy that will be edited.

Be careful about the person you give the copied manuscript to work on. (You will retain one copy and the original.) Most people are not good writers, and the person you choose must be the kind of writer who will keep the tone of the original document while creating the changes and edits that are thought necessary.

When the editor comes across with words that don't seem to match the intent of the original, then have a meeting to discuss that. If the other person does not seem to adhere to the idea of changing the text to match the intended meaning of the original, change your editors.


Another possibility is that you may find and edit the most difficult to translate/edit passages yourself before giving the text to someone else to work on. They might also be used as examples of what you consider to be a clear reworking of a passage for its clarity and its original intent.
by Roberta Burnett G2G6 Mach 2 (26.5k points)

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