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Church records : translation

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Problems involved with translating Croatian church records.

The only Croatian church records available outside of Croatia are to be found on LDS microfilms. These can be ordered from any LDS Family History Center in the world, of which there are over 2000. (These are the Mormons.) You must view the film at the Center on their microfilm machines, but the cost is nominal -- somewhere around US$4 per roll. (The Center usually has some means of copying images to paper, but if not, use a digital camera and take a direct photo of the screen. This method works very well with a little practice.)

Some people get a bit discouraged when they first look at these records because they are in Italian, German, Croatian, or sometimes Latin. However, the language is nothing in comparison to the atrocious handwriting that is often found (see here).

Postings to the Croatian forums sometimes get results, especially if the poster also attaches an image of the problem. See this recent posting to one of the Croatian genealogy forums (be sure to also view the image by clicking on the attachment link in the message). If you follow the thread of this posting you will notice that the vital information (names and dates) was eventually arrived at, even the unusual contraction, Z'ne.

But some people would like either the verification of a real expert or else would like to see a complete translation, especially if this were the record of (say) one's g-g-parent. A complete translation looks very nice hanging on a wall, and there is no better way to inspire future generations to research their family history. Such a translation is even more inspirational than an old photo because it demonstrates the beauty and careful attention to detail that is associated with family research.

Now see this complete translation of the same record by a professional.

But such professional translators are hard to find. There aren't many to start with, and most are gainfully employed by some archive somewhere and are too busy to help you. But I recently found one who has retired and is willing to give this type of translation (for the lay public) a try. His only hesitation is that he has a very slow Internet connection and, therefore, cannot accept attachments (because Internet use is paid for by the minute in Croatia).

So I have offered to act as his intermediary for a few months until he feels better about dealing directly with the public. His rates are 100 kuna (around US$16) for a complete translation as seen in the above example, or for a complete translation of the more common type of matic"na knjiga, as seen here.

The trick is getting a good, readable image to me. The quickest way is to email it, but it cannot be much over 400 Kb (because it takes too long to download otherwise). So you must have software that can reduce a jpg file down to this size. If you cannot create a good, readable jpg file that is 400 Kb or less, then you must mail me a copy by airmail post. (See tips at the bottom of this page.)

So, start by emailing me and put "translation" in the subject line. Attach the jpg if you can get it under 400 Kb. If you cannot, then explain what you have, and I will send you my postal address. In either case, I will explain by return email how to pay (it's very simple -- personal checks work fine) and who to send the money to. I will also put you in direct touch with the translator.

--Tom Ninkovich
Dubrovnik, Croatia & Watsonville, California (depending on the time of year)

Some tips for reducing the size of jpg files:

1. Always keep it at 72 dpi. If it's higher, reduce it to 72.
2. Make it narrower. Nine to ten inches wide is about right for page-wide images. About two inches for individual words.
3. Crop it. Cut out everything that's not needed, especially for images of individual words.
4. Change it from color to black-and-white.
5. Jpg's come in adjustable "qualities". If the image is high quality, reduce it to medium. Low quality is not usually necessary and it can cause readability problems.

[Some software for "tweaking" jpg files are Photoshop (which is very expensive) and Photoshop Elements (around $100 -- but there are many others.]