Monday, November 23, 2015

Ancestral Towns on Wikipedia

Did you know that there are Wikipedia sites in many languages?

Did you know that many small towns all over the world have a web site?

In the US, when we type just (or .org) you get a page that looks like this.

 Clicking on one of the language options will take you to that native language site. You will see a page with a header that looks like this French version. They all have a similar format. If your browser, Chrome, for example, has a translate function you can see the page in English. Or use Google Translate

Note that you can go directly to a foreign language site by using the country code  as in

I’m using the French example here because the language is easier than the Polish villages that I am researching.

The box at the upper right is always the search button. Enter the name of the town here to search for it.  If wikipedia has an entry for it, you will get a page with general information, in the native language, about the town including  history, location, major characteristics, etc. On the right side of the page you will see a vertical panel like this one for Lyon, France shown here in sections.

If the city/town itself has a web site, there will be a link to it at the bottom of the panel. Here is the top of the home page for Lyon, France.

NOTE that at the top right, just above the banner, are two tiny flags: one French and one British. If you click on the British flag it will bring up a Lyon page in English.

But also NOTE that the English version is aimed at foreigners.  I have found this to be true also for the places I research in Poland.  The information is useful but it is general.

The native language version usually gives a much more complete picture of the town and its surrounding area because the focus is primarily for the locals and other speakers of the language.  It gives a sense of the essence of the place, it’s people, culture, events, etc..  

You can use Google Translate to learn about your ancestral village

Even if your ancestral village is relatively small, you may find it on Wikipedia.

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