6 Websites for Deciphering Old German Script

By James M. Beidler

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter Plus, you’ll receive our 10 Essential Genealogy Research Forms PDF as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Open book with German script.

Before the 1940s, most records in German-speaking areas (as well as surname books, newspapers, journals and gazetteers) used a Gothic font called Fraktur. Handwritten documents were composed in cursive using a type of script known as blackletter. Notoriously difficult to read, the Fraktur form of blackletter has been giving German genealogy researchers fits for centuries.

As a matter of fact, the font isn’t just difficult for the human eye. Only within the last couple of years has optical-character recognition software allowed archivists to scan German-language newspapers printed in Fraktur/the Gothic script.

An example of German script, or Fraktur.
An example of the German blackletter typeface, sometimes referred to as Fraktur.

Online German Script Translators and Resources

Old German handwriting in the Fraktur script can be hard enough to read, let alone translate. So to make a serious attempt at understanding German genealogy records, you’ll have to crack the Fraktur code. How? Here are six German script translators that can help:

Download this handy alphabet chart to help you in deciphering handwritten Germanic letters you’ll encounter in genealogical records research.