World migrations have taken place since the dawn of recorded history. Think Australia, America, Iceland. In modern times, sources document these individual migrations. When a person moved from one country to another, the migrant’s first name (aka given name, Christian name, forename) was often translated. Hence, an immigrant went by different first names in their home country and new country of settlement. What resources are available to de-scramble names and determine an immigrant’s name at birth?
Some translations of first names are well known. “Maria” is the Spanish equivalent of “Mary” in English. Other translations are less obvious. Italian names often undergo dramatic changes. Take “John” in English and “Giovanni” in Italian for example.
One of my favorite books on the International Floor of the Family History Library is a rare book titled Słownik Imion. Published in Wrocław, Poland in 1975, the author translates hundreds of given names across 24 European languages. Let’s take a look at the English “William” as an example:
Online first name translators
First name translators are available online for many languages. Here are some I’m familiar with:
- English to dozens of languages at Behind the Name.com
- English to Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Greek, Japanese, and Arabic at One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse
- English to dozens of languages at Namepedia.org
- English to Italian and Greek at D’Addezio.com
- English to Latin, Polish, and German at Polish Genealogical Society of America website
- Jewish Name Variations at Ancestry.com
What other resources do you use to translate first names?