About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Countdown to Mesa Family History Expo - 2 Weeks

It can certainly be difficult to break through brick walls that involve foreign languages. I know people who have tried to learn Italian or Polish or Spanish just to find out who their ancestors are. Are you one of those? It certainly can be frustrating, can't it? Well, if your brick wall, or maybe just minor missing details, involves a language you can't read, it certainly puts up a barrier.

Yes, you can take the letter or document to the fine folks at the Family History Library in Salt Lake, and they will translate the material for free, but only up to a point. I had close to a dozen letters, written in German, telling all about the family that had remained behind in Bohemia in the mid- to late-1800s. I could read some names and dates, but not the specifics (who did what on a given date). Various translators either could not read the old Gothic script or charged me a fortune to decipher (all well worth it, I must add). Then I met Julia and Gina Raddatz - two young German natives who could read the script, translate the information, and help place the data into historical context! I think I have died and gone to Heaven. I have added a couple of people to my family tree plus gone back another generation and learned the death date for my g-g-g-grandfather (along with the specifics of his last day on Earth).

If you are coming to the Mesa, AZ Family History Expo and would like some German to English (or English to German) translation help, these two young ladies (who work together to come up with their translations, sometimes doing it "double blind" for accuracy) will be at the "Ask the Pros" booth to assist for free. And you don't even have to pay for the Expo experience to enlist their help. If a translation job is longer than they can do at the time, they will provide you with contact information so you can get the work done (for a fee) at a later date (they will have a scanner set-up there for the convenience of scanning documents to translate after the Expo).

So bring your German documents, letters, cards, etc. to learn what really happened with your family in the Old Country! And plan to have a great time in Mesa.


  1. Oh, it looks like you are going to have a fun time again!! I am so glad that you have been enjoying your company, and so glad that they got to meet someone like you.

  2. very great and nice i really like this
    its very gggggggggreat and i hope that u will keep it up
    english translation

  3. Those ladies are quite a find. I have scores of letters in old German script too. I've given you the Ancestor Approved Award. I’m impressed with the layout and content of your blog. You can learn more about it and get the image at this post on my blog: http://familyarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2011/01/ancestor-approved-award-and.html
    I didn’t see the Award logo on your site. If you've already received the award, and I missed it, well here ya go again. No obligation to redo the list nor find 10 more blogs.