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Handwriting Examples and Tools

Old German Handwriting.jpg
Old German gothic handwriting and print are very different from the Roman script most English- speaking genealogists use. For examples of old German Gothic handwriting see Old German Handwriting (Gothic) and the Handwriting Guide: German Gothic.

Sütterlin or Suetterlin writing ("old German hand") is a practiced style of writing similar to earlier styles. This is a script, created by the Berlin graphic artist Ludwig Sütterlin (1865-1917), which was taught from 1915 to 1941 in German schools. It is also called the "deutsche Schrift". The website allows you to type any word and see what it would look like in that script. This is a very useful learning tool. This comparison page for the alphabet gives multiple examples of each letter.

Tutorials and Classes

A three-part online class called Reading German Handwritten Records is available on the website.

Another helpful learning tool is the German  Script Tutorial. This tutorial shows how letters are formed, provides practice exercises, and allows students to test their knowledge.

Taking a course in German genealogy from a reputable college is also a worthwhile option for those who want to succeed in reading old German script. Such a course provides opportunities to practice your reading ability. For example, Brigham Young University - Independent Study offers such a free course in German Research.

German Word Lists

If you do not know German, additional helps may be required such as the German Word List page on this wiki or a list of German Numbers from In order to not be overwhelmed, focus on key words. Numbers are often written out, such as when they appear in paragraph form church register entries. These numbers represent birth, christening, marriage and other important dates within church registers. They can be especially difficult to read when the German word is not known.


These books include significant sections to help read the writing in German language documents:

  • George K. Schweitzer, German Genealogical Research (Knoxville, Tennessee, USA: Schweitzer, 1995), 239-70. 1995 digital edition.
  • Kenneth L. Smith, German Church Books: Beyond the Basics (Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1989), 171-97. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 943 D27skL. Including the chart above showing how each letter of the alphabet looks in Gothic handwriting and type.


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  • This page was last modified on 27 February 2015, at 02:17.
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