​Deciphering and Reading Old German

German writing and print have gone through many stages.  None are easy for those of us trained in the Latin alphabet!  These are sources that will help you learn to read and in some cases will even teach you how to write in the old manner.  Some experts believe that you cannot read old German well until you learn how to write it!

You are also welcome to bring your challenging document to the Interest Group meeting.
  1. Brigham Young University.
  2. Archion . Guides for reading German script. 
  3. Steve Morse.  One Step Webpages has help reading Old German Script (Sütterlin, Fractur, and Kurrent) in print and cursive. 
Once you can read old German handwriting, you may still be confounded by some of the terms used.  For example, professions may have names different from what we would use today, as would medical conditions, relationships, and so on.  The following pages are quick guides to some of the confusing terms we’ve found.
  • Occupations. 
    • JewishGen.org.  This site lists German occupation terms alphabetically with English equivalents. 
    • European Roots Genealogy: List of Old German Professions.
    • Rootsweb: Old German Professions (includes some illnesses as well!): 
!!Professional Translation and Transcribing Service!!
Sometimes, even our best efforts at reading old German script do not succeed.  We are delighted to recommend the services of a professional in this arena, Theresa Berns, a native German speaker who lives in Germany and occasionally attends our Zoom meetings. She also offers superb help in locating German resources.  She is a professionally trained translator and transcriber; you can read more about her services at www.tb-translations.com.  You can also see recommendations on her Facebook page, Theresa Berns Translations

Email Theresa at info@tb-translations.com.  We recommend scanning your German document at high resolution (300-600 dpi) and saving it to .pdf format, then emailing the file to Theresa along with your request.  She reviews each document received and provides an estimate of what the cost will be.  You can make payment through her PayPal account (you do not need a PayPal account).

  1. RVGS:
    • Ernest Thode’s "German-English Genealogical Dictionary”.  Good for occupations and showing the variations in German script handwriting for any letter. 3 copies; at least one circulates.

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