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Czech Genealogy: Sometimes it Takes a Village; Sometimes it Takes a Team!

With a slightly different take on the ancient African proverb, which says it takes a village to raise a child, we here at Onward To Our Past® Genealogy & History Services Company recently realized while we didn’t need a village for our current Czech genealogy project, we certainly needed a bigger team!

Our project?  It is our current undertaking to translate more of the fabulous Czech genealogy and history articles found in the rare and difficult to find copies of the Czech language, annual editions of the seventy-nine years of Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  This annual journal was published continuously from 1878 to 1957!  (Editor’s note: While we have now discovered at least one copy of each of these 79 years, except for the 1890 edition (Volume XIII).  If you have a copy of 1890 or have ever seen one, please let us know!

What is it about 1890? The U.S. Census...Amerikán Národní Kalendář...

What is it about 1890? The U.S. Census…Amerikán Národní Kalendář…

Averaging 250-300 pages per edition, this means our project covers total of somewhere in the neighborhood of between 19,750 and 23,700 printed pages.  All of which are in Czech!

Thanks to PBS this is what 20,000 pages of paper looks like!

Thanks to PBS this is what 20,000 pages of paper looks like!

The genesis of this project came about, as do so many things in genealogy, by happenstance.  It began years ago with our discovery of a footnote referencing an article in the previously unknown to us Czech-American publication, Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  Once we found it (no mean feat by itself) we began the translation of the referenced article found in the 1895 edition (Volume XVIII) titled “History of the First Czechs in Cleveland, Ohio” and written by Czech-American penman, Hugo Chotek.  To put it mildly, we were dazzled when we read the translation!  There were dates, surnames, given names, wives, children, occupations, and a multitude of additional details all printed right before our eyes!  Perhaps best of all this article led us to the 1895 book written by Chotek titled “XXX”.  This 192-page book is the earliest book published on the history of an early Czech-American community and we have now translated it as well.  We immediately recognized the power and value of these 79 years of Czech-American history found in Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

As soon as we dug into this project we quickly realized we were going to face some serious challenges and we were quickly going to need some high quality help!  So we began to assess what we needed to attack and translate these incredible, information-laden articles.  One of our immediate realizations was our translators were going to need to be very patient!  Many of these copies, even when scanned digitally, are of dubious readability and condition!  These publications were printed for mass distribution at an affordable price, not for durability, that is for sure!

This is from a copy from 1935 -- and they go back to 1878!

This is from a copy from 1935 — and they go back to 1878!

Immediately we identified some unique challenges our future team would face and that they would need to be able to overcome. 

Tomorrow we continue with our explanation of just a few of the many challenges and hurdles our translation team members face!

Onward To Our Past®

A Genealogical Historian, who is focused on family history and genealogy of the highest quality, but with a dose of fun. Avid about documentation and evidence. Loves helping folks of all levels in their genealogy pursuits, especially in the areas of Bohemia, Czech Republic, Italy, Cornwall, Kent, United Kingdom, U.S. Immigration and Cleveland, Ohio.

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