Use Family History Library/FamilySearch in Salt Lake City To Ask Assistance in Translating Documents

Hi Everyone!

I thought I would share with you my experience in using the special assistance e-mail address at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to seek assistance in having a German online document translated.

I called up the toll-free Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I explained to them that I would be in need of some German document translation help and would they be able to help.  They indicated I could submit my request to them via e-mail with the document in electronic format (JPEG) attached to my e-mail.

They indicated I should send my request for help to them at

I sent the request with a JPEG attachment of the document.

Within minutes I received back confirmation from them of the e-mail request they received.  They assigned me a case number that I should use in any future correspondence to them about this particular case.

They indicated I might expect a reply back with the translation help within about 5 business days.  I did receive a follow-up e-mail indicating they were referring my request to a Family History Library Research consultant. 

Within a few days I did receive a response back that indicated they were having some problems with the quality of the image provided.  Later that day I did receive back another response with a basic translation of what I had provided to them.

They did not initially provide me with the full answer I was seeking, but they provided me with more translation material than I started with.

I decided to contact FamilySearch again to see if I could still get a better answer on the translation.  This time, rather than sending them a JPEG attachment of the image, I simply decided to provide them with the link to the data from  This way they could actually peruse through the 4 pages of images associated with the KIERNA surname I found contained within this database of 1870 Franco-Prussian War casualties.

I am so glad I decided to resubmit my request.  This time I received a wonderful response indicating that the FamilySearch researcher did in fact look through the multiple pages and did determine what the translations were for some of the abbreviations that were present throughout the document.

Key abbreviations I needed help with were seeing a “L. v.” by the KIERNA I was interested in.  The researcher indicated that from looking at earlier pages of the data it appeared that the “L. v.” that appeared for my KIERNA actually translated to something that meant “light injury”.  There was another abbreviation scattered throughout of “S. v.”.  That translated to “serious injury”.

So it appears that my Lorenz KIERNA was a fusiler (sharpshooter) from “Augustenhof Kreis Wirsitz” (in the Prussian province of Posen) who was apparently only “slightly injured”.

This is exciting news to me because the area of Wirsitz in Prussia is actually the Polish town today of Wyrzysk which is right in the same area my KIERNA ancestors are from.  I do not yet have any idea of the relationship of Lorenz KIERNA to me at this time.  I am suspect he may be a brother of my great-grandfather.  I have not yet been able to identify any siblings of my great-grandfather.

Interestingly enough a Lorenz KIERNA winds up in Omaha, Nebraska circa 1890 and can still be found on the 1920 Census for the area.  I am hopeful that this Lorenz is the same one that appeared as being “slightly injured” in the 1870 Franco Prussian Casualty List from!! 

I am extremely happy with my experience having contacted the FamilySearch/Family History Library by e-mail seeking translation assistance.  The turnaround for me was remarkably quick.  They are organized, responsive and helpful!

I may try this again with them on some paper documents I have that may need scanning.  You should plan on scanning on a fairly high-resolution (600 DPI).  A higher resolution is needed to allow the viewer of the image to be able to magnify it as necessary without losing clarity of the image.  It may be a larger file but it seems needed so they can better view it.

I may also just send them a link from a web site where a foreign language document exists for which I may need translation assistance.  It beats scanning and sizing the image and attaching it to send to them!

You may initially contact the Family History Library directly yourself via toll-free phone call at 1-866-406-1830 to talk to someone about your own unique request for help.

Here is a link to the web address where you can seek help from FamilySearch through their contact information:

FamilySearch Help Via Phone Number, Online Chat and E-Mail

This was an excellent experience that you may consider trying for some of the documents you have in your possession for which you have been “guessing” the meaning if it is in a language you do not understand.

I hope this helps you consider seeking this method of help on your own foreign language documents.

It was a great experience for me getting some very helpful language assistance related to translating a document from such a great organization as FamilySearch.  This was something I wanted to share with everyone so you can give it a try yourself for your own documents needing translation.

I hope you have as good of an experience as I did.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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