As one can see from the first two examples above, German printed and handwritten words of earlier times looked quite different from the type of printing and handwriting Germans are using nowadays, which are similar to those used in English.
Since these Old German "Gothic" scripts (Black Letter, Kurrent, Sütterlin, Fraktur, etc.) were difficult to decipher, in 1941, they were replaced by the easier to read and write Latin script, which most Western European countries had used for centuries.
From then on, the Old German "Gothic" scripts were no longer taught in German schools. Only the older people in Germany are familiar with the abolished scripts, and this generation is slowly dying out.
Most people need professional help when deciphering old German records of all kinds, like diaries, letters, postcards and photos, obituaries, church book entries, wills, poems, certificates, immigration records, and the "Ahnenpaß" (Ancestor's Passport).
Not only do the Old German "Gothic" scripts present a problem when one is faced with deciphering a German document, but there are also numerous other pitfalls–faded copies, bad handwriting, non-existing spelling rules in earlier times, barely literate writers, antiquated language, meanings of words which have changed over time, and amalgamation of German and English words.
I became well versed in the Old German "Gothic" scripts in order to do research for my Ph. D. thesis on a German female poet from the 17th century.
I was born in East Prussia, Germany and long before embarking on my extensive research into my own genealogy, I became be well versed in the Old German "Gothic" scripts in order to do research for my Ph. D. thesis on a German female poet from the 17th century.
Little did I know at the time how useful this unique skill would be for me and for others interested in their own family histories. After being asked repeatedly for help with these kinds of documents, I decided to branch out into the translation field and started this service more than two decades ago. My focus has been mainly in the area of German immigration to America and German genealogy.
I find that working with genealogists, both professional and amateur, is very rewarding. For decades, people have been sending me shoeboxes full of old letters and postcards that they have not been able to make any sense of. I am so gratified when my translations provide my clients with an insight into their ancestors’ lives! The person they have been searching for literally seems to “come alive” for them and they are so grateful.
Sometimes, this translation is the information they need to finally find the place where their ancestors lived in Germany. Often, it opens doors to putting together the “puzzle” that is genealogy. On many occasions, I have seen grown men and women cry from being able to unlock a mystery they have worked so hard to solve.
I relish being able to help others with my skills in translation and my understanding of the time period and culture that surrounded those documents and their creators. They are an important link to our past.
I welcome you to contact me with your German Genealogy Translation needs.