If your family research requires emailing foreign archives or government agencies, you might be interested in knowing that Gmail has a translation option. When you receive a message in a language you don’t read, Gmail can instantly translate it for you. Here is how it works. When Gmail automatically detects that the message sent to you is in a language other than your default language, a box will appear at the top of your email. Click on “translate message” and, voila, your message will be translated into English. Of course it usually won’t be a perfect translation, but you will certainly get the gist of the message.
If you don’t have a Gmail account, you can, of course, copy and paste email messages into any of the free online translating services, such as Babelfish, Google Translate, or Bing Translator; but if you already do have a Gmail account, the translate feature is a nice convenience that allows you to eliminate those extra steps.