What are "German Scripts"?

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.

Examples of the Alphabet

What does "Translation" involve?

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.

What kinds of work have you done?

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:

How much does it cost?

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. 

How do I send money over the Internet?

I use PayPal to transfer money. 

How can I send a copy of my document?

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).

How can I learn to read these scripts myself?

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.

2 - 8 July

hopedale01c.jpg (70690 bytes)

9 - 10 July

hopedale02c.jpg (82281 bytes)

11 July

hopedale03c.jpg (80608 bytes)

12 - 13 July

hopedale04c.jpg (77459 bytes)

14 - 15 July

hopedale05c.jpg (81065 bytes)

15 July i

hopedale06c.jpg (80572 bytes)

15 July ii

hopedale07c.jpg (78416 bytes)

15 July iii

hopedale08c.jpg (81797 bytes)

23 - 24 July

hopedale09c.jpg (73452 bytes)

25 July

hopedale10c.jpg (68381 bytes)

26 - 27 July

hopedale11c.jpg (76783 bytes)

29 - 31 July

hopedale12c.jpg (74651 bytes)

How can I learn to read German on the Internet?

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


German Language Genealogical Sources

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.

                         R.E. Aksim signature in Sutterlin script  (1160 bytes)




Updated June 07, 2010

  Page maintained by Rudi Aksim