F. Warren Bittner, CG, “Reading German III: Fraktur, Civil Records and Pre-Printed Forms”

“Reading German III: Fraktur, Civil Records and Pre-Printed Forms”

F. Warren Bittner, CG


Reading old Gothic script is one of the most difficult challenges facing German researchers. Germans were meticulous records keepers, but the script and type face are difficult to read. This course will provide practice reading handwritten items in old Gothic script and items printed in the German Fraktur font, including family books, civil records, and military forms.

This course will build on the lesson in the first two sessions. Students who did not take the first courses are invited to attend. A basic understanding of German Old Script will be very helpful, but not essential for success in this course.

F. Warren Bittner, CG, is a genealogical researcher and lecturer. He is a trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He holds a Master of Science degree in history from Utah State University. His master’s thesis looked at the social factors affecting illegitimacy in nineteenth-century Bavaria.

Warren Bittner was a winner of the National Genealogical Society 2011 Writing Contest, with his article “Without Land, Occupation, Rights, or Marriage Privilege: The Büttner Family from Bavaria to New York.” This article was also awarded the  National Genealogical Society, Award for Excellence, 2012 which is presented annually for an outstanding article published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

He has coordinated German research tracks at the Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. For six years he was the German Collection Manager for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He has done research in more than fifty German archives and in more than forty U.S. archives and record repositories.


Day 1

  • The first session will cover the Fraktur alphabet, with samples from newspapers, family histories, and civil records. A homework assignment will be given.

Day 2

  • Civil records on pre-printed forms and freehand. Vocabulary of printed forms, common templates, and free form examples will be given. Homework from the previous week will be reviewed and a new assignment given.

Day 3

  • Pre-printed forms for church, vital and military records will be presented. Family registers from Württemberg, the Pfalz, and the Deutschesgeschlechterbücher. Homework from the previous week will be reviewed and a new assignment given.

Day 4

  • More difficult examples from the sources presented in the previous workshops will be given. Homework from the previous week will be reviewed and a new assignment given.


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