A Genealogist’s Guide to Deciphering Old German Script

31 Dec 2018


If you’ve ever dabbled in genealogy, you know that reading the print on old documents can be a daunting task. Not only is the writing hard to read (especially on documents that have not been well maintained), but the formation of the letters is often different from what we see today.

Well, if you think that is hard, just wait until you attempt to decipher old family records that were written in German!

Before the 1940s, most of the records in German-speaking areas were printed in a Gothic font called Fraktur. And the handwritten documents were a cursive variation of this Fraktur, which means they are even more complicated to read. Even if you are proficient in the German language, these old documents often look like they were written in chicken scratch.

No need to worry, though. While reading these documents is definitely tricky, it is not impossible. There are a lot of tricks to help you learn to “crack the Fraktur code.” Just check out this great article from Family Tree Magazine for some helpful hints, as well as a great list of online tools dedicated to making your research a little less intimidating.

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