Saturday, April 5, 2008

A thousand words and a few pictures

They say, "A picture is worth a thousand words..."

I say: "Possibly even more when the words you'd like to read are written in a language that you can't easily understand!"

Years ago I learned about Dr. Dragutin Feletar's book about the history of Legrad, Croatia.

Last summer I became aware of his new book (authored with several others) regarding the history of Donja Dubrava. Published by Meridijani, Dr. Feletar's publishing company, it is entitled Općina i župa Donja Dubrava (The Community & Parish of Donja Dubrava).

Meridijani also has a book of interest to me written by Petar Feletar entitled Istočno Međimurje (East Međimurje). The vintage photo of villagers in the local folk-costume of my ancestors just calls me to read this book!
I was also interested to find a part of Donja Dubrava's history online via the Central & Eastern European Online Library (a good source for many a genealogist with European roots). The article, also written by Dr. Dragutin Feletar, is about the history of Donja Dubrava's lumbering industry and includes mention of the firm Ujlaki-Hirschler & Sons, perhaps a link to my family. The article is entitled Donja Dubrava - Središte Splavarstva na Rijeci Dravi (Donja Dubrava - Center of Lumbering & Floating Trade on the River Drava).

Another interesting item I found on the web was a small excerpt of Legrad's history on the website Eko Legrad.

So many good historical resources!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Janos Bogardi of Hungarian genealogy's Radix suggested I take a look at a 1912 history of Legrad that he found published online at the Nagykanisza public library website (the library is named for István Halis). Legrad was formerly part of Hungary's Zala county, so both Hungary and Croatia have played a role in its fascinating story. Nagykanizsa, still in Hungary today, is not too far from Legrad and Donja Dubrava (both today in Croatia) and was visited by my ancestors who had lived in those small towns. (My great-great-great-grandparents appear to have gone there to have their portrait taken in the late 19th-century.)

All of these resources are wonderful, but they share one drawback:

They are all (to my eyes and ears, at least) in a foreign tongue!

The Nagykanizsa library's 1912 history of Legrad is in Hungarian. All of the other resources that I mentioned above are in Croatian. Another problem on top of that, as Janos Bogardi explained to me, is that the library's Hungarian history was scanned and then translated using OCR so the results are sometimes challenging even for a native Hungarian speaker to understand.

So many great resources in my hands, but I can't read any of them! (Yet...)

On top of all of these wonderful discoveries of historical reading material in Croatian and Hungarian, did I mention that I have been corresponding with several readers of 100 Years in America who are current residents of Legrad and Donja Dubrava? And, you guessed it, not all of them have written to me in English.

Another linguistic challenge for this student of Croatian genealogy and therefore (by default) a student of Hrvatski!

A picture is truly worth a thousand words for someone like me who struggles with genealogy in a foreign country and foreign language (or languages, as in my case). However, I value those words tremendously when they pertain to my family's heritage, whether they come by the thousand or by the handful, and even if it takes me awhile to understand them.

If you have any additional recommended reading for me in Croatian or Hungarian, please don't hesitate to send it! And of course, emails in Hrvatski or Magyar are just as welcome, although it may take me awhile to respond.

Hvala (a Croatian thank-you) and köszönöm (a Hungarian thank-you) to those that have sent me recommended reading materials and photos and to all of my 100 Years in America readers throughout the world!

1 comment:

  1. Lisa,

    I know the feeling. I have a great book on the history of my ancestors' town in Bavaria. Lots of detail...if only I could read German. I sit and look through it from time to time, picking out words. Not quite the same as reading it!



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