January 7, 2011


Thanks to the internet, I can plan meals for my family in a few minutes a week (and email grocery lists to my cell phone!). I can keep in touch with friends across the country, and make new ones. I even met my beloved spouse on the internet (10 years ago, oh my!), and now we've used the internet to start our little business on Etsy.

But recently, I had another really awesome experience that has me once again wondering how people made do without this connection we use every day. What would the woman in this photo think if someone tried to explain the internet to her?

I have no idea what she would say, but it would have been in Hungarian. I also have had no idea what she had written on the back of this photo. Neither did my dad, who showed it to me, along with a box full of old documents, letters, receipts, immigration records, and all sorts of genealogical goodies that reside in his attic.

But I was determined to find out. So I had my mom sneak up there (they live in another state) and find a few things from the box to scan and email to me so I could have them translated. Online translation sites were not working well (or I couldn't read the text clearly enough to enter it right) and I quickly learned that professional/certified translation services are pretty pricey, so decided to take another approach. I did a quick google search for websites about the Hungarian language, and explained my request in a few emails to the addresses I found.

Within a couple of hours, I heard back from a woman named Sarah, a missionary who has a website with information about the country and language, who was happy to have me send the scans to her. The same day, she responded with the translation for the back of this photo:

"My sweet daughter, it has been a long time since I have seen you and my sweet granddaughters Ersi & Rozi (Elizabeth & Rosi), send kisses from their grandmother. God be with you & with us also.

Elizabeth was my grandmother. So it sounds like this photo was from her grandmother, my great-great grandmother.

I printed out this translation, with a few others, for my dad and gave it to him with his Christmas gift. He was pleased to learn the meaning of some things that had been lost to us in language and time, and I was very thankful for this stranger who was so happy to help me!


  1. What a wonderful story. Love it! :)

  2. Nice :)
    But, you could spare yourself all that "trouble" of searching for someone to translate - in the future, you can use Google Translator (it has Hungarian as well). It is not 100% perfect, but even if it use some wrong word, you can easily understand it.

  3. Sandra, Oh yes! I did try those... either the handwriting was too hard to read and I wasn't entering the words right, or it just came out a nonsensical mess :) I think they work well for websites and typed text, but these handwritten notes were not so simple!

  4. I love this post! I had been working on my family tree last year, ended up busy & not continuing~ your story has inspired me to pull it out again. What a precious gift from the past Amanda!! Thank you for sharing it, it's beautiful :o)