Germany Handwriting

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Handwriting Examples and Tools[edit | edit source]


Old German gothic handwriting and print are very different from the Roman script most English- speaking genealogists use.

Sütterlin or Suetterlin writing ("old German hand") is a practiced style of writing similar to earlier styles. This is a script, created by the Berlin graphic artist Ludwig Sütterlin (1865-1917), which was taught from 1915 to 1941 in German schools. It is also called the "deutsche Schrift". The website allows you to type any word and see what it would look like in that script. This is a very useful learning tool. This comparison page for the alphabet gives multiple examples of each letter.

Script Generator Tool[edit | edit source]

See your family names in the script of the era. Type your name or other word into the font generator tool using "alte deutsche Handschriften" website. Click on the 8 different fonts. Save the image to your computer and use it as you work with old Germanic records.

Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]

Tutorials and Classes[edit | edit source]

A three-hour series about how to read old documents can be found here. A ten-part online German Paleography Seminar is available that focuses on how to decipher simple German-language records by recognizing and writing letters in Kurrent, recognizing key genealogical terms, and recognizing common German names.

Another helpful learning tool is the German Script Tutorial. This tutorial shows how letters are formed, provides practice exercises, and allows students to test their knowledge.

Taking a course in German genealogy from a reputable college is also a worthwhile option for those who want to succeed in reading old German script. Such a course provides opportunities to practice your reading ability. For example, Brigham Young University - Independent Study offers such a free course in German Research.

See also: Reading the Old German Handwriting online course by Katherine Schober ($)

German Word Lists[edit | edit source]

If you do not know German, additional helps may be required such as the German Genealogical Word List page on this wiki or a list of German Numbers from In order to not be overwhelmed, focus on key words. Numbers are often written out, such as when they appear in paragraph form church register entries. These numbers represent birth, christening, marriage and other important dates within church registers. They can be especially difficult to read when the German word is not known.

Books[edit | edit source]

These books include significant sections to help read the writing in German language documents:

  • George K. Schweitzer, German Genealogical Research (Knoxville, Tennessee, USA: Schweitzer, 1995), 239-70. FamilySearch Catalog.
  • Kenneth L. Smith, German Church Books: Beyond the Basics (Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1989), 171-97. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 943 D27skL. Including the chart above showing how each letter of the alphabet looks in Gothic handwriting and type.