You might be like the optimistic researcher seeking to document the birth for an ancestor about 1780 in York County, Pennsylvania. Statewide registration of births began in 1906. The county first recorded births in 1893. Both are too late.
Next, you turn to church records. What religion was this family? Where did they reside? Where are the records located? The FHL catalog lists forty-one entries for York County, with less than half matching the right time period. How long would it take to methodically read through so many church records?
Have you searched a treasure of the Family History Library known as the BBCs?
The Printed Birth and Baptismal Certificates of the German Americans (FHL US/CAN Book 974.8 A3st) is the full title of the Fraktur art and printing collection of Klaus Stopp whose interest was in the ornate Pennsylvania German folk art and unique style of lettering. His value for the genealogical content is reflected in the indexing of some 24,000 individuals of German American heritage. The certificates were created between 1738 and 1901.
Bound in red cloth with gold embossing of “BBCs” on the spine, this valuable collection can be found in the open stacks on the third floor of the Family History Library. Each of the six volumes is about 300 pages with a surname index of about 4000 names. The index includes the name of the child (Kind), the parents (Eltern) sometimes with the mother’s maiden name, and the witnesses (Taufzeugen) often grandparents or other relatives. The reference number is a catalog entry and not a page number. The certificate may be on a page other than the catalog entry.
Magdalena Blintzinger, the daughter of George Blintzinger and [his wife] Anna Margaretha, was born 11 December 1785 in Hanover [town], York County, Pennsylvania. She was baptized 3 January 1786. The Taufzeugen [witnesses] were the Grossältern [grandparents], Georg Blintzinger and [his wife] Magdalena, for whom the child was named. The artistry of the certificate features flowers, trees, vines, and fences in the colors of green, red, yellow, and black with hand lettering. (Vol. 1, p. 123, catalogue number 28.1)
The baptismal certificates collected by Klaus Stopp come from many localities (places of printing) besides Pennsylvania, including Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and France. Unlike many items in the FHL collection, the BBCs have not been microfilmed or digitized. The set is one of only 500 originally published in 1997.
Fraktur (Pennsylvania German folk art
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The Historical Society of Berks County, Pennsylvania
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Reading German Handwritten Records
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German Word List
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