Translating Letters #galicia #translation #poland

Helen Goldsmith

If it is Sutterlin, you might try

I had about 20 letters that were both in Sutterlin and virtually illegible - other translators I showed my letters to couldn't make sense of them. A year ago someone sent me a link to this site. She did it really quickly, although some was even too illegible for her, so there are some gaps. But I finally got to hear the voices of my paternal grandparents. It was a really reasonable cost (although I can't recall what it was). Note: she transcribed it into modern German and not into English. I put her transcription into Google translate and immediately had a translation!

Helen Goldsmith
San Francisco, California

Peggy Mosinger Freedman

Rachel Kessler Park made a good suggestion about how to scan and name each letter.

I used the software package Tropy available from Digital Scholar at to organize a collection of unidentified Yiddish letters from my grandfather's desk.
(As this is a non-profit providing free tools for students and scholars, I hope this mention is acceptable per JewishGen guidelines.)

The software sits on your computer and you drop the scans in it.  Once the scans are connected to Tropy, you can add both formal source details and metadata (type of document, date, where it is held, etc). You can also create your own tags (author of letter, language, etc).  I found new information in my collection of Yiddish letters because I tagged them with my own details (like the letterhead of the letter!)

You need to be a little bit of a nerd to like learning new software, buts since a lot of us genealogists are, I wanted to share the tool. I am really impressed with it.

Peggy Mosinger Freedman
Atlanta, GA

Yale Reisner


If your family was Yiddish-speaking, why would they write each other in German?!

Could you post part of that material?

Yale J. Reisner
Warsaw, Poland
JGFF #913980

Rick Luftglass

last year I posted a Yiddish newspaper article by great uncle on Viewmate, and Abraham Maxwell, a volunteer, responded and did a wonderful job. I then reached him privately and said I had a lot more, but too many to ask kind-spirited volunteers. I offered to pay him for his time. It’s not his business and he wasn’t actively seeking translation work,  so we just agreed on an amount that seemed mutually fair, based on his estimate of the hours. It ended up being about 20 articles, done great and fast. If you post a scan on viewmate, he may be one of the people who responds, or email me privately and I’ll share his contact. 

Rick Luftglass
Brooklyn, NY


Locations of interest.
Pcim (Myslenice county), Poland
Oswiecim, Poland
Andrychow, Poland
Gdow, Poland
Narajow (present-day Ukraine)
Namestovo (present-day Slovakia)
Bogopol (present-day Pervomaisk, Ukraine)


I have had over 100 letters between my grandfather, his two sisters and other family members translated from many languages. It took over a year.

I used jewgen viewmate to translate some short letters or post cards but it can take a while. People on viewmate helped determine the language the letter were written in. 

Using translators can be about 10 cents a word. I found three translators who I found through the internet. Some advice, 1. scan each letter including the envelope. 2. Determine the date, who wrote the letter, and language it was written in. 3. Develop a naming system ex. 19290423.Dora.R.14. Date.Name.language.Letter#. Apply this coding to a postanote to put on original letter and file name of the scan. Put originals in folders by year. Only send scans to translators. Keep a tracking list of letters, who wrote the letter, where they were located, date sent to translate, date returned, notes about key info from letter. Be as organized as you can! 

hope this helps. Contact me by email if you have any questions. 

very rewarding experience!
Rachel Kessler Park

stanley goldberg

I had a similar situation. I had letters written by my maternal grandfather (who had immigrated here to Kingston, NY) to my parents, also here in the United States. I was doing family genealogy and wanted to know if these letters contained any family history, by chance. The letters were in Yiddish.
I contacted the Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts. While they do not provide translation service, they did provide an extensive list of translators. The list is organized both alphabetically as well as by area of specialty including other languages. I did contact one of the translators who reviewed the letters, sent me an estimate and then I agreed to the service. While the letters did not provide any family history, they were original family documents which I valued.
The Yiddish Book Center: 413-256-4900;
I hope they can help.

Stanley Goldberg
Detroit, Michigan

Jamie Morgenbesser

I need help please. My family has found letters from the 30's-40's, written by my great-great grandfather, to his son (or children) in America. We are not sure what language the letters are written in, it appears to be an old form of German script, possibly Sutterlin script? My family came from Galicia and spoke yiddish, so there is nobody in my family able to translate. My grandfather (86) knows VERY little about his father and I would love to translate these letters and allow my grandpa to understand his fathers history. Thank you!

Jamie Morgenbesser