Too many researchers try to make “But I don’t know any German” an ending point. But for folks taking the “Working with German Script and Fraktur Font” workshop as part of the Lancaster Family History Conference, it’s really the beginning point.

The workshop’s goal is to acquaint researchers with resources and techniques for learning the skills needed for reading records and documents from the primary language of many of Lancaster’s local colonists.

3 Interrelated Skills

To accomplish the workshop’s goal, German genealogy expert James M. Beidler runs the participants through the three interrelated skills involved in learning enough “German for genealogy.”

The first of these is vocabulary—if you can learn just a hundred or so words in German, you’ll be able to read through and transcribe the words from many records.

Secondly, you’ll be taught to put this vocabulary to use on records that are printed with the distinctively German Fraktur font, which is generally used on tombstones as well as newspapers, books and the printed headings of handwritten records.

Finally, the workshop introduces the participants to the cursive script used in most handwritten German-language documents from the 1600s through the 1940s. Most commonly, this means church registers in both Europe and ethnic German congregations in America, but many early wills and letters are in this script, too.

Bibliography and Exercises

The workshop is a blitz of 3 hours that also includes comments on an extensive bibliography of research aids and websites specifically targeted to help with these German-language skills. Time will also be spent on class exercises to illustrate and reinforce each of the concepts.

Participants will receive a packet of handouts that include covering basic vocabulary, as well as alphabets showing the peculiarities of printed Fraktur font and handwritten cursive script.

Special Registration Required

The “Working with German Script and Fraktur Font” workshop requires special registration and payment of a small group fee. It will be held Friday, March 29, from 9 a.m. to noon, the day before the main conference. Learn more and register here.