All things history and genealogy.

All things history and genealogy.

Tag: translation

Sometimes it pays to look to the present for information about the past.

It’s amazing what information about the past including people and events can be found by searching through online newspapers, magazines, etc. – even if they are in a foreign language.

I’m routinely having to read, translate and understand documents written in their original language such as French, German, Swedish, and so on. My go to method for getting started is accessing ‘Google Translate’. To have a web page translated, just type the complete original language url in the Google search box, press ‘search’, find what you’re looking for in the search results list and click on ‘Translate this page’.

El Economista TranslatedOne such site I’ve recently accessed was ‘El Economista’ a Mexican, Spanish language online newspaper. On this particular day, the headlines were dominated by news of Javier Duarte de Ochoa and his handling of the crisis created by the recent tropical storm. Javier Duarte is the Governor of Veracruz, Mexico.

Above is a clip from the Google translated site mentioned and as you can see the text in the first paragraph is quite understandable, although not quite grammatically correct. I would always suggest finding independent confirmation elsewhere to confirm your understanding, if possible.

I routinely search through newspapers in the areas in which I’m researching and I have stumbled upon some real ‘gems’ related to my research, including a rooming house arson fire a recent ancestor escaped from, another ancestor whose name was published as a deserter in WWI, and most recently news of a tragic train crash in a community from which my own father’s French Canadian family originates. It was particularly heartbreaking to read the names of the deceased in the online French language news sites, and to recognize many of them as distant relatives.

Using Google translate  is also a useful tool if transcribing documents from their original language. Go to the main Google translate page, type the text in question in the left box, making sure it’s labeled with the correct language and click ‘Translate’. The English translation will appear to the right if English is the selected language. Text can be translated to and from numerous languages.

photo credit: Augie Schwer via photopin cc

Transcription: Obituary for Camille Vachon

The following is a transcription of the French text of an obituary for Camille Vachon.


Camille Vachon
Camille Vachon

VACHON, Camille

À l’Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, le  20 juin 1990, à l’âge de 83 ans et 10 mois, est décédé monsieur Camille Vachon, époux de dame Marie-Anna Boily. Il démeurait à Sts-Anges. La famille recevre les condoléances à la salle municipale, 317, des Érables à Sts-Anges, vendredi de 13h 30 à 16h 30 et de 19h à 22h, samedi de 13h à 14h 45. Le service religieux sera célébre le samedi 23 juin, à 15h, en l’église de Sts-Anges et de là au cimetiére paroissial, sous la direction de la Maison.

Armand Plante Inc.
875, Ste-Thérèse

Il laisse dans le deuil, outre son épouse, ses enfants, gendres et belles-filles: Marie-Laure (Melvine Gagné), Laurent (Annette Drouin), Magella (Marie-Claire Drouin), Reina, Gemma (Laurent Lallamme), Guimond (Françoise Turmel), Thérèse (Adrien Lacroix), Pierrette (Denis Lagrange), ses vingt-deux petits-enfants, ses sept arriéres-petits-enfants; son frère et demi-soeurs: Valère, Germaine (Adélard Tardif), Eva, Iréne (Hermel Doyon), Agathe, Fernand (Jeannine Crenier), Rita (Antonio Labrie), Carmella (Freddy Jolicoeur), Imelda, ses neveus, niéces, cousins, cousines et de nombreus ami(e)s. Pour renseignements, 1-397-6948.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION (via Google Translate)

At the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, on 20 June 1990 at the age of 83 years and 10 months, Camille Mr. Vachon died, husband of Marie-Anna Boily. He remained in Sts-Anges. Family condolences will be received at the Municipal Hall , 317 Maples Sts-Anges, Friday from 13h 30 to 16h 30 and 19h to 22h Saturday from 13h to 14h 45. The funeral service will be held Saturday, June 23 at 15h, in the church of Sts-Anges and then to the parish cemetery under the direction of the house.

Armand Plante Inc.
875 , Ste- Thérèse
St. Joseph

He is survived by, in addition to his wife, children, sons and daughters, Marie-Laure (Melvin Won), Lawrence (Annette Drouin), Majella (Drouin Marie- Claire), Reina, Gemma (Laurent Lallamme), Guimond (Françoise Turmel), Therese (Adrien Lacroix), Pierrette (Denis Lagrange), twenty- two grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, his brother and half-sisters: Valere, Germaine (Adelard Tardif), Eva, Iréne (Hermel Doyon), Agathe, Fernand (Jeannine Crenier), Rita (Antonio Labrie), Carmella (Freddy Jolicoeur), Imelda, his nephews, nieces, cousins ​​and numerous friends. For more information, 1-397-6948.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


Oh, the difference one letter can make when using copied or transcribed documents!

This joke is the best illustration I’ve ever seen of the negative effects of working from copied documents instead of originals. This should be on display in every library, archive and genealogy center as a reminder of the perils awaiting.

This is something I think about every time I do a transcription, and this type of consequence is why I use wildcard symbols in place of characters I can’t quite make out or understand in the original or copy I’m working from. It ensures the reader knows there is doubt and if it’s important to them and their research, they’ll look for and consult the original.

The Old Monk

A new monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to help the other monks in copying the old texts by hand.

He notices, however, that they are copying copies, not the original books. So, the new monk goes to the head monk to ask him about this. He points out that if there were an error in the first copy, that error would be continued in all of the other copies.

The head monk says “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.” So, he goes down into the cellar with one of the copies to check it against the original.

Hours later, nobody has seen him. So, one of the monks goes downstairs to look for him. He hears a sobbing coming from the back of the cellar, and finds the old monk leaning over one of the original books crying. He asks what’s wrong.

The old monk sobs, “The word is celebrate.”

Learning to transcribe from ‘ye olde englishe’ and latin.

Transcribing the baptism register from Norfolk, England in my previous post, “Transcription and Translation: Baptism of Elizabeth Stalham and others from the St. George Tombland Church register” was particularly problematic for me, requiring my learning to transcribe from ‘ye olde englishe’ and latin.


I am familiar with transcribing in several languages such as German, Swedish, French, etc., even though I do need help from Google Translate.

For this translation, I was able to interpret the text fairly easily, including the months, and the years. At first, I thought there were no days mentioned at all, until I took a closer look and realized there was one small ‘word’ in each entry I couldn’t account for. One thing I did notice was the pattern of repetition within each entry and it’s resemblance to the pattern of repetition to Roman numerals – even if they did appear to be just miscellaneous symbols or text (see image below).


Baptism record for Elizabeth Stalham - marked.


To confirm my suspicions, I did some research into interpreting Latin dates. It took some time and effort as everything I found at first referred to the date formats used in general, including those used in recording events in genealogy software.

Just as I was about to give up and use my standard ‘????’ in place of the mysterious text since I was unsure of my conclusions, I came upon the following web page that provided the answer I was looking for. They were ‘Reading dates in old English records.’ The following is the verbatim section from the page that specifically provided the answers I was seeking.

The chart below shows some of the different ways numbers may be written.

1 unus, primo, primus, I i
2 duo, secundo, secundus II ij
3 tres, tertio, tertius III iij
4 quattuor, quarto, quartus IV iiij, iv
5 quinque, quinto, quintus V v
6 sex, sexto, sextus VI vi
7 septem, septimo, septimus VII vij
8 octo, octavo, octavus VIII viij
9 novem, nono, nonus IX viiij, ix
10 decem, decimo, decimus X x
11 undecim, undecimo, undecimus XI xi
12 duodecim, duodecimo, duodecimus XII xij
13 tredecim, tertio decimo, tertius decimus XIII xiij
14 quattuordecim, quarto decimo, quartus decimus XIV xiiij, xiv
15 quindecim, quinto decimo, quintus decimus XV xv
16 sedecim, sexto decimo, sextus decimus XVI xvi
17 septendecim, septimo decimo, septimus decimus XVII xvij
18 duodeviginti, octavo decimo, octavus decimus, duodevicesimo, duodevicesimus XVIII xviij
19 undeviginti, nono decimo, nonus decimus, undevicesimo, undevicesimus XIX xviiij, xix
20 viginti, vicesimo, vicesimus, viccesimo, vicessimo, viccessimo XX xx
21 viginti unus, vicesimo primo, vicesimus primus XXI xxi
22 viginti duo, vicesimo secundo, vicemus secundus XXII xxij
23 viginti tres, vicesimo tertio, vicesimus tertius XXIII xxiij
24 viginti quattuor, vicesimo quarto, vicesimus quartus XXIV xxiiij, xxiv
25 viginti quinque, vicesimo quinto, vicesimus quintus XXV xxv
26 viginti sex, vicesimo sexto, vicesimus sextus XXVI xxvi
27 viginti septem, vicesimo septimo, vicesimus septimus XXVII xxvij
28 duodetriginta, vicesimo octavo, vicesimus octavus, duodetricesimo, duodetricesimus XXVIII xxviij
29 undetriginta, vicesimo nono, vicesimus nonus, undetricesimo, undetricesimus XXVIV xxviiij, xxix
30 triginta, tricesimo, tricesimus XXX xxx
31 triginta unus, tricesimo primo, tricesimus primus XXXI xxxi

Numbers may also be written as scores. A score is twenty and is written as XX or xx. If XX is above another number, it would be multiplied by the number under it. Therefore, four score or eighty could be written as XX over IV or xx over iiij as shown below.

XX xx

IV iiij


  1.; “Reading and Understanding Old Documents & Records”; Kimberly Powell;
  2. Family Search; Reading dates in old English records; Document ID: 111804;

Transcription and Translation: Baptism of Elizabeth Stalham and others from the St. George Tombland Church register.

St. George Tombland Church Parish Register of Norfolk, England for 1597 – Elizabeth Williams (Stalham) baptism (and others).


This was very difficult to transcribe and translate, and errors may be present. Be sure to consult the original image and keep the original image attached to this transcription and translation.


Elizabeth Stalham baptism record
Elizabeth Stalham baptism record

Transcription of Latin text in baptism register.

??? ???? ????? ???? xx Augustus 1596 fuit bpats
Rufus Baly xi octobris 1596 fuit bpats
Jacobus Gardingson x march 1596 baptizatus fuit


Matilda Blaye xxj April 1597 baptizatus fuit
Orrilia Colye xv? Junii 1597 fuit baptizatus
Thomas Lenox fuit baptizatus xxxj Julii 1597
Georgina Banke xxvij Julii 1597 fuit baptizatus
Rffus Kipping fuit baptizatus xiij Augustus 1597
Elizabeth Stalha fuit baptizatus xj Novembris 1597
Thomas Awbrey fuit baptizatus xxiij Novembris 1597Translation to English from the original Latin.??? ???? ????? ???? 20 August 1596 was baptised.
Rufus Baly 11 October 1596 was baptised.
Jacobus Gardingson 10 March 1596 was baptised.


Matilda Blaye 21 April 1597 was baptised.
Orrilia Colye ??? June 1597 was baptised.
Thomas Lenox was baptised 31 July 1597.
Georgina Banke 27 July 1597 was baptised.
Rffus Kipping was baptised 13 August 1597.
Elizabeth Stalha was baptised 11 November 1597.
Thomas Awbrey was baptised 23 November 1597.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Translating French words for genealogy research can be tricky.


In researching genealogy, translating French words for genealogy research can be tricky, and the same goes for other languages as well, and mistakes can easily be made.


Getting one term, phrase or word wrong can mean taking your research off in the wrong direction based on the interpretation of that word.


Obituary for Paul-Henri Boily, 1926-1998

While researching my French Canadian, Acadian and French Canadian ancestors, I frequently came across terms that needed translation. From past experience, I knew it was important to not make a snap judgment of the meaning of a term based on its similarity to another French word, an English word, or words in any other language.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is ‘journalier.’ Upon first impression, I thought this might mean ‘journalist’ but after checking into it further, I discovered it meant a ‘day laborer.’

Here is my list of the French terms for occupations that are encountered most frequently in vital documents and records.

à la retraite retired
agriculteur farmer, husbandman
aide de sous commis helper to asst clerk
apothicaire pharmacist
apprenti(e) apprentice
apprêteur(euse) tanner, dresser of skins
archer bowman
architecte architect
argentier silversmith
armurier gunsmith
arpenteur, arpentier land surveyor
arquebusier matchlock gunsmith
artisan handicraftsman
aubergiste innkeeper
aumonier army chaplain
avocat, avocate lawyer, barrister
bailli bailiff
banqier(ère) banker
becheur(euse) digger
bedeau church sexton
bédeau beadle
beurrier(ère) butter-maker
bibliothécaire librarian
blanchisseur(eusse) laundryman, woman
bonnetier(ère) hosier
boucher(ère) butcher
boulanger(ère) baker
bourgeois(e) privileged person
boutonnier button-maker
braconnier poacher
brasseur(euse) brewer
briqueteur bricklayer
briquetier brick-maker
bucheron woodcutter
cabaretier(ère) saloon keeper
caissier(ère) cashier
calfat caulker
camionneur truck driver
cannonier gunner (canon)
cantinier(ère) canteen-keeper
capitaine de milice captain of the militia
capitaine de navire ship captain
capitaine de port port captain
capitaine de vaisseau ship captain
capitaine des troupes troup captain
cardeur(euse) carder(textiles)
chamoisseur chamois-dresser
chancelier chancellor
chandelier chandle-maker
chanteur(euse) singer
chapelier(èr) hatter, hatmaker
charbonnier(ère) coal merchant
charcutier(ère) port-butcher
charpentier carpenter, framer
charpentier de navires shipwright
charretier carter
charron cartwright, wheelwright
chasseur hunter
chaudronnier coppersmith, tinsmith
chaufournier furnace tender
chef cook
chevalier horseman, calvary
chirurgien surgeon
cloutier nail-maker, dealer
cocher coachman, driver
colonel colonel
commandant commander
commis clerk
commissaire d’artillerie arms stewart
commissaire de la marine ship’s purser
compagnon journeyman
comptable accountant, bookkeeper
concierge janitor, caretaker
confiseur(euse) confectioner
conseilleur counsellor, advisor
contrebandier smuggler
contremaître overseer, foreman
controleur superintendant
cordier ropemaker
cordonnier cobbler, shoemaker
corroyeur curier, leatherdresser
coureur-des-bois trapper
courrier courier, messenger
courvreur en ardoise slate roofer
coutelier cutlery maker
couturier(ère) tailor, dressmaker
couvreur roofer
couvreur en bardeau roofer who roofs with shingles
cuisinier en chef chef
cuisinier(ère) cook
cultivateur(trice) farmer
curé pastor
débardeur stevedore
défricheur clearer (of forest)
dentiste dentist
docteur doctor
domestique indentured servant, farmhand
douairière dowager
douanier(ère) custom officer
drapier clothmaker, clothier
ébeniste cabinet maker
écclésiastique clergyman
échevin alderman
écolier(ère) student
écuyer esquire
électricien electrician
éleveur(euse) animal breeder
employé(e) employee
engagé ouest hired to trap furs out west
enseigne ensign
enseigne de vaisseau ship’s sub-lieutenant
ferblantier tinsmith
fermier agricultural worker
fonctionnaire civil servant
forgeron smith, blacksmith
huissier sheriff
ingénieur engineer
journalier(ère) day laborer
maçon mason, bricklayer
marchand merchant
médecin doctor
mendiant beggar
menuisier carpenter
meunier miller
maître d’école school master, headmaster, principal
maîtresse d’école school mistress, headmistress, principal
navigateur sailor
notaire lawyer, solicitor
ouvrier worker
pecheur fisherman
peintre painter
pilote ship’s pilot, harbor pilot
pompier fireman
potier potter
prêtre priest
rentier retiree
scieur sawyer
seigneur land owner, landlord
sellier saddler
tailleur tailor
tanneur tanner
tonnellier cooper (barrel-maker)
vicaire vicar