Saturday, September 29, 2012

Guest Post - Old German Script Need not Fade

I was asked by Peter at Metascriptum if he could submit a guest post to Genea-Musings, and after reviewing his document, I agreed:

Old German Script Need Not Fade
by Peter at Metascriptum

Old German script is difficult if not impossible for younger generations to read. However, this does not mean that old documents need to fade away into nonexistence or misunderstanding. There are many ways that you can keep history alive.

Of course, one way to decipher these documents is to learn the old script that was used prior to 1941. However, this is a tedious task, made more difficult by the fact that the script is no longer taught in traditional schools. Yet, you can still learn what your past family has left behind. All you need to do is find someone that can transcribe or translate the documents for you.

Family History Regained

One of the biggest reasons people have documents written in old German script is to regain pieces of family history and lore. It is entirely possible that there may be stories in your families past that have been lost because no one can remember them. However, if those stories can come out in past personal letters, diaries, journals, and memoirs, you can regain your family history and a sense of your own self.

There are many different types of documents that may be found in the personal belongings of family members past. Personal letters, journals and diaries, or manuscripts may be found. It is entirely possible that you don’t even know what you have because you cannot read the old German script. Descriptions of property owned, business transactions, or personal encounters may all be discovered by having these documents translated.

Discovering New Insights

Since the old German script was faded out during the Second World War, there are many things you may discover in your family’s old papers. If you had ancestors that fought in the war, you may gain new insight to military life in the Nazi regime. You could also learn about your ancestor’s feelings about the war and about the German government of the time. It could give you a fresh outlook on the war itself and on your family’s part in it. This can give one satisfaction or disappointment, but it is important to the history of your family and the world nonetheless.

If you are so inclined, you could use the research gained from having old documents transcribed to write a book about the time period. Or, you could simply use the information to fill in gaps in your family history. Passing down stories about your family to your children becomes much easier when you have a full understanding of those stories from the perspective of those who actually lived in those times.

Of course, the old German script was used long before the Nazi regime as well, so you could uncover a wealth of family history and information by transcribing documents that you find. You could learn about marriages and births in the family, which could lead you in a totally new direction in your quest for family history and genealogy. All in all, it can be very rewarding and informative to have documents written in old German script transcribed for current and future generations.

We at Metascriptum provide professional support for deciphering your documents written in [old German script | link to] and are happy to help you assist you in your research process.


My thanks to Peter for his post.  If you have German script documents and want transcriptions or translations done, please contact Peter at his website above.


bgwiehle said...

Old German handwriting styles are not the problem. Letter lists and sample texts are available, also tutorials like those at FamilySearch. It's not that difficult.
The bigger issues are knowledge of the language itself, including abbreviations, archaic words and spellings and cultural context, and the preservation quality of the document itself. This is true of any older text, any language. Reading older documents takes practice (and a little luck with the writer's pensmanship), but it is doable.

Anonymous said...

Our very own SDGS Dona Ritchie gave a workshop this month on the subject. Most interesting and informative!

Anonymous said...

Our very own SDGS Dona Ritchie gave a workshop this month on the subject. Most interesting and informative!