|Germany Research Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Handwriting Examples and Tools
Old German gothic handwriting and print are very different from the Roman script most English- speaking genealogists use.
- For examples of old German Gothic handwriting see the PDF file Handwriting Guide: German Gothic.
- A short handy reference guide with an alphabet, reading tips, and record samples is found here.
- A list of given names with handwritten examples from records is found here: German given names handwriting examples.pdf
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 suetterlinschrift.de 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
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.
Tutorials and Classes
A three-part online class called Reading German Handwritten Records is available on the FamilySearch.org website.
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.
German Word Lists
If you do not know German, additional helps may be required such as the German Word List page on this wiki or a list of German Numbers from about.com. 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.
These books include significant sections to help read the writing in German language documents:
- Edna M. Bentz, If I Can, You Can: Decipher Germanic Records (San Diego, Calif.: E.M. Bentz, 1982). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 943 G3b 1992.
- Roger P. Minert, Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents 2nd Edition (Provo, Utah: GRT Publications, 2013), 271 pages. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 417.7 M662d 2001. An excellent textbook for studying German script.
- George K. Schweitzer, German Genealogical Research (Knoxville, Tennessee, USA: Schweitzer, 1995), 239-70. 1995 digital edition.
- 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.