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Transcriptions and Translations

©Photo by Sylvia Hetzel



Deciphering 18th- and 19th-century handwriting is a challenge in any language. It takes practice. Old Italian handwriting varied significantly up and down the peninsula, while perplexing abbreviations were commonly used in church records adding an additional level of difficulty.

Personal correspondence was not common until Italians began leaving their homes for a better life overseas and needed to stay in contact with their families and vice versa. Literacy rates among the working classes, which accounted for most Italians who chose to emigrate, was extremely low. Even those who had had some schooling, typically stopped after the third or fifth grades. They could write, but not in an easily comprensible manner and, indeed, most wrote in the dialects which was the only language they knew.

If you have any of your own ancestors' personal correspondence in Italian, you hold precious pieces of family history. For help understanding the content or transcribing and translating it for posterity, please contact: The Italian Genealogist.

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