13 May 2014

German Card for Genealogy Research

The German Card is the best $5 I’ve ever spent, certainly in research terms.

The SGGS German Card is a four-panel card, hinged and laminated, that folds up to the size of a credit card. Around the outside edges of the panels are Kurrentschrift or Alte Deutsche Schrift (“old German script”) and Fraktur alphabets, showing both upper and lower case, arranged so that you can hold each letter directly under the German word you are trying to decipher. It is designed to be carried in one’s wallet or purse for use in the library or at the archives. I have one in my wallet and one by my desktop computer.
This pocket research aid is exclusively available from the Sacramento German Genealogy Society.
The German Card includes:
  • Old German alphabets – upper case and lower case, for both the old German handwriting and the printed Gothic font
  • Basic German vocabulary words as used in church and civil records
  • U.S. census dates for years in which pertinent immigration information appears
  • Basic German genealogy resources
  • Major symbols used in old German genealogical recordkeeping
  • Soundex Code


30 Mar 2014

Some Thoughts on Reading German Parish Microfilm

Warning: genealogy whining ahead. I have some thoughts on reading German parish microfilm – a LOT of German parish microfilm that looked just like the screenshot on the right.

I was lucky to be at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, with every roll of microfilm available. So I did due diligence, reading German parish microfilm for five days for every village in my search area – but with no results.

Why did I pick genealogy? Why not something easier, like taking up home dentistry, a backyard moon launch, or counting grains of sand on the beach?

So after all those hours and rolls of German records, I have to say there are two people I dislike, however pointlessly retroactive.

The pastor:

Let’s leave handwriting and spelling out of it. Not fair to pick on the guy when that was his job to be the educated person in a village who was responsible for creating vital records, now is it?

But I’m so glad the pastor made sure write JOHANN GOTTFRIED and MARIA ANNA in letters two inches high and then write the surname in tiny tiny script buried somewhere in the record like it was a secret. And of course, the pastor made sure use a mix of Sütterlinschrift, Kurrentschrift, Roman letters, plus some Latin and Polish mixed in, just to keep things light.

And yes, some of that handwriting strongly resembles a chicken on acid who ran through an inkwell before it made a break for freedom running across the pages of the parish register.


21 Jan 2014

Translator Apps – Tuesday’s Tip

Translator apps is the topic for this Tuesday’s Tip. I may have been a whiz at history in school, but languages defeated me. That makes tech help imperative for me and for lots of other genealogists working with records in languages other than English. Here are some translator apps that can help your family history research:

translator apps sassy jane genealogy universal translator1. Chat in Another Language – Universal Translator $2.99

Found a cousin in a distant land? Universal Translator makes it possible for each person to type in their own language; the app then automatically translates for the other user in the chat. Both parties must have a Google Chat account.

translator apps sassy jane genealogy2. Translate Offline – Languages $2.99

Eager to avoid data […]

30 Jul 2013

PopChar App for Tech Tuesday


Today’s Tech Tuesday is about PopChar, a tiny app that adds accent marks and other diacriticals almost seamlessly in virtually any software application from your menu bar.

I’ve used it for a long time in the archives, mostly for copyright and trademark symbols. But it’s real value to me is in my genealogy research, being able to add diacriticals to foreign language characters in my family tree app so easily. Because I’m translating lots of German and Scandinavian records, I use it daily. I hunted around on my own recently looking for a way to do a lower-case y with an umlaut and PopChar had it for me in seconds (see above).