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From: Anne Yard <>
Subject: Re: [SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN-ROOTS] Translating an old birth certificate
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 15:17:25 -0500 (GMT-05:00)


I'm saying this not having your document in front of me, but this is a surmountable challenge.

The fraktur is easy - get a hold of a letter chart (I have one and will scan and email it to you if you want) and translate a letter at a time. There are a few letters that are tricky - I often fall into the trap of mistaking a "V" for a "B" - but really, when you see something in English in fraktur typeface, you realize it's not that different.

The handwriting is tougher, but I found the tutorial on reading old German handwriting at familysearch.org to be incredibly helpful. It includes several charts - showing the handwritten versions of capital and lowercase letters, the different versions of "s", and letters that look very similar. I have used these to decipher many old church records (not with 100% success, mind you, and it is painstaking work). The one suggestion I would have from personal experience is to keep an open mind - I found the same entry would include some letters formed in German script and some in regular script (mostly commonly names of people would be in "regular" script).

Also at familysearch, somewhere I found a German word list that includes days of the week, numbers, occupations, etc. - words that are found in church records. Sometimes all I could figure was a first and last letter, for example, and would go to the word list to check the possibilities to see if any fit.

Good Luck.

Anne Yard


-----Original Message-----
>From: Paul Nebeling <>
>Sent: Jul 21, 2010 1:57 PM
>To:
>Subject: [SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN-ROOTS] Translating an old birth certificate
>
>I have a challenge. I received my Grandfather's birth certificate from
>Itzehoe. I've got two problems. The first is interpreting the
>Fraktur(?) typeface that the form is printed in. The second is
>understanding the handwritten script. The document dates from 1898, so
>there have been changes to both the pre-printed and handwritten styles.
>Anyone got suggestions?
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