Old German Handwriting


Many of our ancestors, especially from the German areas, used a handwriting style that is not used anymore today.

The name of the old German writing depends on what kind of writing style it is. The most well known are: Gothic, Fracture, Current, Offenbacher and Sütterlin.

More than 20 different letter styles have been used in the German Empire, Austrian/Hungarian Empire and in Switzerland in the past centuries. Some examples known are: Nürnberger style, Niederrheinisch style, Schwäbisch style, Dresdner style, Offenbacher style, Swiss style and many more.

The amount of people that are able to read the old documents is dwindling as time goes on. Even native German hobby genealogists today have a challenging time understanding the different old handwriting styles; often because of poor handwriting.

If the old German handwriting is a challenge for you, try to compare the unidentified letters in your documents with one of our different lists. Please note, that every recorder of documents in the past centuries did not always have nice handwriting as shown in our lists. Oftentimes you will only be able to read the letters because you can understand the rest of the word.

If the challenge is too big for you, please give us a try.

We also offer seminars where you can learn to read and write some of these old letter styles. For more information about our seminars please follow this link.


Where does German handwriting come from?


Letter samples: 




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