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Find your roots with the help of your phone| GuyWhoKnowsThings


Spending time in cemeteries and libraries may not be everyone's idea of ​​summer fun, but for those interested in finding their roots, gathering information about their ancestors. is a “family” vacation. Sure, genealogy sites have made researching ancestral history much easier with digitized document archives, family tree-building software, and community forums. But not all It is online.

As you visit libraries, archives, and cemeteries in search of your roots, keep your smartphone or tablet handy—it can help you with translation tools, document scanners, and more. Here are some tips that can make your research trips more efficient.

Old newspapers, religious records, tombstones, and official government documents (whether preserved in an analog file or digitized online) can be invaluable resources for obtaining information about your ancestors. However, not all sources may be in a language you know.

Google Lens (available as Android application or within the google app for iOS) can isolate words from an image and provide an on-screen translation. You can also copy the isolated text into a note or document.

In iOS 15 and later, you can use Apple live text feature, which uses the camera to translate, copy and share text visible on the screen. When you have a document or tombstone in view, tap the square Live Text icon in the bottom left corner. The software highlights the words and offers a Translate option in the pop-up menu.

If you still can't find the words, consider the free translation apps on your phone. Google Translate (for Android and iOS and the desk Web browser) and Apple Translate application for your iOS devices are options, as are third-party translation apps and AI chatbots.

If the software is having trouble recognizing text or if you have handwritten records that produce confusing translations, try retyping the content in your phone's browser. notes app or a word processing document. Then, paste that text into your translation app to see the results. Software-generated translations may not be perfect, but you can probably get a general idea.

Poor quality images, input errors, or languages ​​that use certain alphabets or stylized fonts can confuse the software, so look for help on the web to convert words into something your translation app recognizes. For example, some newspapers produced for German immigrants used typefaces such as Fracture with certain characters that do not exist in other alphabets, but you can find graphics for identifying them.

When you discover documents in libraries and archives that have not been digitized, use your phone to scan the pages you need (with the institution's approval, of course). If you do not have a dedicated scanner appuse the tool on the Google Drive or from Apple Grades application.

With the Apple Notes app, create a new note and tap the camera icon. You have menu options to scan the document itself or scan the text directly into your note.

Taking pictures of images from old yearbooks and other photo collections is a quick way to get your own digital copies. the one on your phone photo editing tools can trim and enhance quickly The files. You can also transfer and clean the images later. on your computer with photo editing tools on a larger screen.

Alternatively, Google has a free program photo scan app for Android and iOS that attempts to correct gloss, warping, perspective, twists and faded colors in old prints when photographing them. When you open PhotoScan and point your phone at an image you want to digitize, the app guides you through capturing the image from various angles. It then attempts to reconstruct a better version by combining separate shots and automatically enhancing color, contrast, and other image elements.

Visiting an ancestor's final resting place allows you to pay your respects and sometimes gain new details from a burial marker. Online resources like find a grave and One billion graves can tell you the plots (virtually or in person) and often provide you with photographs of the headstones; BillionGraves has a free basic tier and subscriptions starting at $5 a month for more features like GPS coordinates for every recorded burial site.


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