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German: Reading the Records
Register (Fees/Dates)
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NOTE: This course requires compulsory materials to be ordered. Please click on the Supplies tab for details.

The primary, and often only significant original records for German research are the registers of the local churches where German ancestors lived. This is the case wherever, and whenever, Germans lived, and wherever you are conducting research on German families. Within the bounds of modern Germany, the old German Empire, or in the dozens of other countries where ethnic Germans settled, successful research requires the careful, and sometimes creative, use of church registers.

However, those church registers are almost invariably written not only in the German language, but also in a style of handwriting foreign to most researchers. Although a different course discussed the German language, it is also crucial to be able to read the handwriting in which the records were made.

Indeed, prior to the late 1800s, and often even later, any original records in German-speaking areas will be written in this older style handwriting. Therefore, to successfully use those records, researchers, regardless of how well they know the German language, must also be able to read the old German handwriting.

This course provides a highly detailed discussion and explanation of the old style of German handwriting, called the Gothic script. Through numerous illustrations, researchers will learn not only the regular appearance of the Gothic letters, but also common variations of those letters and numbers. Assignments to practice writing the letters and key words, and to even transcribe sample documents, will teach you how to succeed with your own research in German records. The addition of various strategies and tactics for reading the records will further prepare you to face the real records.

Course Content

Module 1

Introducing Gothic Style German Handwriting
Introducing The Text Book
• Brief History of German Handwriting
• Lower Case Letters
• Very Similar to Latin Letters
• Mid-line Letters
• Ascender Letters
• Descender Letters
• Up and Down Strokes

Module 2
Gothic Handwriting Part 2
• Upper Case Letters
• Similar to Latin Script
• Similar to the Lower Case Letter
• Comparable to Latin Script
• Very Different Appearance
• Abbreviations
• Confusing Letters
• Numbers and Dates

Module 3
Tools And Tactics For Reading German Records
• Reference Tools to Use
• German-English Dictionary
• German Grammar
• Library Catalog or Archive Inventory
• Other Useful References
• Useful Tactics for Reading the Records
• Identify the Arrangement of the Records
• Understand Language and Customs
• Apply Correct Mechanics

Module 4
Deciphering Sample Vital Record Entries

Module 5
Reading Latin Handwriting In German Records

Module 6
Reading French Handwriting in German Records

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