I have Azorean roots. So, along the way I had to learn a little Portuguese in order to read the Azorean records. I’m self taught and use vocabulary lists, research guides, and a trusty dictionary to get me through.
One day, I was up at the local FHC working on baptismal records in Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island. My eyes started to ache and my brain was hurting too. I wanted to find a census record before I left. I got my film, switched to another reader, and began winding the film.
Much to my chagrin, I couldn’t read it! My brain was stuck in Portuguese mode. For about 5 minutes, I slowly turned the winder trying to figure where were the filhos? Where were the padrinhos? And, what happened to the testemunhos? What the heck were all these English words?
Finally, my brain caught up and I was able to read name, occupation, and the other columns.
It was one of the oddest, funniest research situation I’d ever been in. Well, except for the day when the microfilm popped off my reader and went rolling down the aisle. I never would have dreamed that I wouldn’t be able to read my own native language! It was just too much!
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com