From the Sixteenth Century until 1941 German handwritten documents used a cursive script ("Kurrent", "Kupferstich") sometimes called "Fraktur" or "Bruchschrift"(from the broken line that characterized the writing) or "Sütterlin" (after the designer of one example of this script taught in German schools in the last century). The documents written in this script may originate in modern day Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and from other areas where there were German-speaking areas in the past and which are in modern-day Poland, Russia, the Baltic Republics and so on. This script was also used for North American German-language documents, such as Birth and Death records, Diaries -- particularly those of the Moravian Missions.
Normally translation means the creation of a transcript of the document, keeping the original line arrangement and punctuation, and then the production of an English-language version of the document.
In addition to numerous translations and transcriptions of family diaries, birth, marriage and death records, survey map notations, the following are examples of longer projects:
Send me a copy of your document and I'll give you an estimate, based on an hourly rate.
Costs depend on the time it takes to translate your document. That will depend on the handwriting itself, the quality of the copy, the number of pages written by the same hand, and so on.
I would prefer that you scan your document and send me a 100% quality JPEG (.jpg). Please be careful to scan the whole page and to tell me anything you know about the document (where it is from, the names of families, towns or cities, and so on).
Some years ago I was writing my thesis on Switzerland in the eighteenth century and learned to read German documents written in cursive. While I was (still) finishing my thesis, I translated several hundred pages of Moravian Diaries from the Labrador coast, and was invited to try to transcribe a set of seventeenth-century hand-written notes. One thing led to another ....
If you already have (some) German, learning to read these scripts is not very difficult. There are books and websites set up to help you learn how to do this. In particular, I would point you towards
There is a German-language electronic forum which brings people together to work on transcription problems at http://genealogische.suchanzeigen.de/schrift/index.html
You also may need a longer sample of german script to work on. Here are twelve pages from the Mission diary at Hopedale, Labrador from 1794. Contact me for help or tutoring with these pages.
Andreas Lixl's "Deutsche Internet Übungen" http://www.uncg.edu/~lixlpurc/publications/NetzUeb.html -- a resource site with over 100 links to German exercises for every level -- is a good review of opportunities for learning German on the Internet.
Gary Smith's "Grammar of German" site is a place to start to learn German grammar http://www.wm.edu/CAS/modlang/gasmit/grammar/grammnu.htm
There are several books available (for readers of German) to help you learn German Script:
Harald Süß, Deutsche
Schreibschrift, Lehrbuch (Aubsburg: Augustus Vlg, 1995) €10,90
Harald Süß, Deutsche Schreibschrift, Übungsbuch (Aubsburg: Augustus Vlg, 1995) €5,50
lbert Kiewel, Inghild Stölting, Eberhard Dietrich, Wir lesen deutsche Schrift (Kiel: Orion-Heimreiter, 2000) € 5,30
Berthold zu Dohna, Warum nicht mal deutsch. Übungsbuch für die deutsche Schreibschrift.(Hamburg: Christians, 2001) €12,80
Here are some places where I have found useful information:
I am interested in collaborating on translation/research projects. Send me an email. I hope to hear from you.
Updated June 07, 2010
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