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412-540-KEY1 (5391)

©2019 by Unlock Your History


Languages. History. German. Family.

Stefan Israel started translating old family letters in German and Danish back as a college student, and picked up the old German form of cursive as a teenager.  He majored in German, and went on to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor in Germanic Linguistics, focused on German and its dialects, Dutch, and all the Scandinavian languages. 

His years abroad have included southern Bavaria, Freiburg near the French and Swiss borders, Kiel in northern Germany and Schleswig near the Danish border, as well as Finland and Iceland.  He has worked specifically as a translator since 2002.  And he enjoys it greatly.

Journey Book





Contextual Notes

Unlock Your History helps people along a marvelous journey: one that begins with a tantalizing, but frustrating family document and ends with a rich unveiling in your Journey Book. It may have been handwritten by a recent or long-departed ancestor. It's certainly in another language.

We call it genealogical translationbut it's so much more meaningful than that. Unlock Your History specializes in German & Scandinavian languages (German, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, even English from earlier centuries) to help families translate and understand the context of their enigmatic documents.

With the original placed beside the translation and rich information to give context about the original, plus suggested next steps, Unlock Your History takes genealogical translation to a new level.

Browse our site and blog to learn how genealogy and family history have enriched our lives.  Have any old papers you can't read? We'd love to help you unlock some of your history as well. Please reach out!


Family. History. Exploration. Discovery.

Pamela Israel grew up surrounded by a family immersed in genealogy. She also has a passion for exploring and discovery. After years of marketing and product launches in the corporate and start-up worlds, she spoke to her linguist borther and brought these interests together. She created Unlock Your History, specializing in genealogical translation of all Germanic languages to help others discover what is locked in their family letters, postcards, certificates, diaries, wills and more.

Pamela speaks frequently on the intersection of family artifacts, history and genealogy. She is a member of numerous genealogical associations, including APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) and the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society.




Unlock Your History is committed to providing you with a Journey Book: a richly informative packet. We will help you understand more than simply the words on the page. Each packet includes "Extras" to help you understand the context of the document and what you can do next once you have it in hand.

Our language experts are more than just translators. They care deeply about the significance of each document and will help you understand details others might miss. Stefan, our lead has a Ph.D. in Germanic linguistics, taught for years as German professor and has been a professional translator for over 15 years.

Translating historical documents entails many factors: language, legibility, use of abbreviations, technical terms and more.

Each document is unique. We review scans of your document for free and provide a custom quote. We would love to help you. Please reach out so we can help unlock your family history.