Reading the Old German Handwriting

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A Sneak Peek...

All About "Reading the Old German Handwriting"

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Want to read the words of your German ancestors?

You're in the right place!

Upon sign-up, you'll receive LIFETIME ACCESS to:

Videos - Flashcards - Games - Reading - Writing - Tests - Quizzes - Practice Record

The course is divided into three sections:

Section A: Learn to Sight-Read the Individual Letters of the Alphabet

Section B: Discover the Must-Know Vocabulary in German Genealogy Records

Section C: Practice with Real-Life Records (Vital Records, Church Records, and More) - Until You're a Pro!

Best yet, the course is entirely self-paced - meaning you can do it whenever and wherever you want!

One of the best genealogy decisions I've ever made:

After 20+ years of dealing with German Catholic records that primarily used Latin script, last September I connected to a Lutheran line that used Kurrentschrift which I've always found challenging (to say the least). While I could pick out names, dates and places I knew that I was missing a great deal of detail.

Katherine's course is aimed at keeping learning Kurrentschrift not only enjoyable but achievable. I truly would recommend the course to anyone who is serious about being able to get the most detail out of their family's documents.

I'm not done with the course yet but I've noticed an improvement in what I can read and understand. The course is one of the best genealogy decisions I've ever made. - Kurt Cook, Salt Lake City, UT

Amazing "aha" moments:

I’m now well into this course and I remain absolutely delighted! I can see how much care Katherine has put into the planning of the course and its progression. I love the variety in the teaching formats: powerpoint lessons, games, quizzes, vocabulary downloads and the practice sessions. All these help to reinforce the teaching and facilitate learning.

I’ve noticed such an improvement in what I can read and understand of my ancestors’ records. There have been some amazing “aha” moments when I’m now able to recognise the shape of a particularly tricky letter, or a cause of death. Along the way Katherine has also provided tips and tricks, together with links to some really helpful websites….. the total package! - Lis Drew, Australia

Try out a few sections yourself by clicking on the down arrow and "Preview" under Course Curriculum below.

Course Curriculum

  Discussion Forum
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  Introduction: Why Did Our Ancestors Use the Old German Script?
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  A. Individual Letters, Lesson 4: Common Combos (Common Letter Combinations in German Handwriting)
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  A. Give it a Go!: Deciphering Short Words Yourself
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  B. Give it a Go!: Deciphering Vocabulary Words Yourself
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  C. Reading Records, Lesson 1: Tips and Tricks of Deciphering the Old German Handwriting
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Could not recommend it more highly:

I started this course frustrated that I couldn’t even decipher the signatures of my ancestors on documents. By the time I had finished, I felt confident enough to study and begin translating the entire record! What an empowering experience! Katherine Schober’s unique approach to education encompasses multiple learning styles, allowing each student to absorb information in the way that suits him or her best. The variety of options for review – a combination of videos, flashcards, games, and printable vocabulary lists – keeps study time interesting. I could not recommend “Reading the Old German Handwriting” more highly! - Katie C., New Jersey

Loads of fun:

I love Reading the Old German Handwriting class! I am very much a "hands on learner" and also need visuals, so being able to do this on my own time and feeling the security of going back to reinforce what I have learned has been really great. I love the matching and flashcard games. They really reinforce the presentation; and they are loads of fun! There are a number of samples that have been very helpful; especially with Katherine vocalizing and pointing out the letters. I also like the helpful hints. All of these things combined have made this a great learning experience for me. - Sandy J. Invaluable:


The course has helped me tremendously. I recently joined a new Facebook group on Prussian genealogy and someone found several documents related to my family. The great news is that through the course work, I was able to read much of the information on those documents for myself. Once you familiarize yourself with specific letters and also where items are located in the vital documents, it becomes a quick process of deciphering.

Of course I use several references, such as old street names for Danzig/Gdansk, to verify my guess is correct. But your course has helped me so much. I can't wait to learn more about my family as I discover new documents and am able to read the Kurrentschrift.

Thank you for an amazing course and the other materials and information you share. Invaluable! - Michele D.

She shared her whole toolbox with us:

First of all, I was excited to find an in-depth online course for translation of old German documents. I found the course challenging and comprehensive. I appreciate Katherine’s Powerpoints with the careful and measured instruction and explanations appropriate for even the least experienced students. With the games, challenging practice documents, plus tips and links to online assistive sites, it felt like she shared her whole toolbox with us. This includes some of the more tricky workings of the German language, like word order and alternate spellings. The vocabulary lists of BMD, occupations, causes of death, include some not found in other sources. Having studied the language in the past, viewed webinars and practiced the handwriting, I’ve had some success with translation. I have also been left with pages of German words (not all BMD documents) for which this course has provided context, enabling me to better understand my documents and to more skillfully transcribe them into English. - Josephine L.

I can really see the difference:

I would highly recommend this course for beginners to advanced genealogists who want to learn or improve their abilities to read Kurrentschrift. I am about half way through the course but have already noticed improvement in reading Kurrentschrift. I will still need to practice and this course allows you to practice, test yourself, and review. I have already tested myself against other documents that I have on hand and can really see the difference. The coursework is relevant and aimed towards the genealogical terms you will encounter and there are many tips and tidbits along the way. - Sherri T., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Well worth the time and monetary investment:

I was excited when I learned about the option of taking the Old German Handwriting Course. Many of my ancestral lines root in Germany and I have copies of numerous signatures, birth and marriage records, etc. Also, I studied German for three years in college and have traveled to Germany several times. So that prior study and travel gave me some familiarity with German although not with the Kurrentschrift.

The course became a review of some German study previously (i.e. months of the year), and it allowed me to review the signatures of German ancestors. In one of those signatures from 1812 in Virginia, an ancestor signed for permission for his son to marry. The family name in the United States became Troxell. However, the signature was nothing like this. Then an “aha” moment happened when I recognized the German “D” in the signature. I already knew that the German name was Drachsel. The “D” in the signature was the first letter in the last name. He had signed in his native German. Amazing!

I commend the course to anyone with German ancestral connections. Do the lessons and exercises and then review the lessons. When I reached the end of the course, I went through all the lessons (lectures) again in sequence. Then I began to make connections that were very helpful. When I did the letter exercises (reading handwritten letters sent between people) in the last lesson, I was amazed at how I could recognize letters and some of the words, given my previous acquaintance with German.

The lectures are interesting and can be followed easily.The format allows a person to review each one easily. There are numerous tips and hints for connecting the letters and words. The print-outs are useful for future references. A very student-friendly course.

The course is well worth the time and monetary investment. - Robert A.

My world has expanded:

I recently completed the handwriting teachable German online course after experiencing difficulty with the Kurrentschrift when looking at family letters. I have searched for the ones with the least messy handwriting and am slowly tackling them one by one just like a detective. Katherine does a wonderful job in the course with explaining the common pitfalls and strategies to discover the words using many useful techniques. It really is like learning a second alphabet so be patient with yourself and try each exercise in the program. I have not mastered reading every word in my family letters because individual writers have their own styles, however I am close to 90%.

I plan to revisit the course every few months which is an excellent feature of the program to review and practice, practice, practice! We all know the old adage-How does one get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice practice....I am able to decipher more of the letters from the late 1800’s to 1930 or so, and my world has expanded to understand the daily lives of my relatives, their hopes, and fears. It allows me to stand tall knowing where my roots come from. Thanks to Katherine Schober for creating this amazing online class for learning the Kurrentshrift along with her accompanying book. - Christianne R., Mission Viejo, CA

Moves my research along faster:

My eyes used to glaze over when I looked at the old German handwriting on parish and civil records, on postcards and letters.

NO MORE! After working through 75% of the course, I find myself pushing back at that glaze, starting to sight-read the handwritten words, or at least recognizing/transcribing individual letters/words written in those less-than-perfect handwriting styles, to actually reveal a word. Now I don't have to wait days and weeks for those vital records translations to learn what is in them, which moves my research along faster. - Don R.

The best decision I've made for my genealogical efforts:

Want to become that cool genealogy cousin who can read some of those old German script documents - that others can only see as scribble, but you can decipher? With a bit of determination, you can be that cousin!

There was much excitement on my part last year when I uncovered 15 records on my family members, all written in old German script. Resolute to be able to read these, I sought out and watched every video and webinar I could find on the internet related to this old alphabet; I even practiced the latter since I dabble in calligraphy. But I was still frustrated - I wasn’t making much progress in reading the records.

Then I became aware of Katherine Schober’s on-line course. Signing up for “Reading the Old German Handwriting” was the best decision I’ve made for my genealogical efforts! I’m able to see words out of the scribble! The course is well written and paced, with a variety of learning tools that are fun. You progress at your own pace, and best yet, Katherine makes herself very available to interact with you, if need be. She shares many angles of deciphering the script, like emphasizing words to pick out in birth, marriage, and death records, the titles on those documents, and how key words might be arranged in text records. Wonderful and useful and valuable information not found in those videos I watched.

I am awaiting arrival of Katherine’s latest book, The Magic of German Church Records, which I suspect can only enhance and elaborate on the knowledge base I have already acquired from her course, my records being mostly church records. Also helpful, though not focused on the ecclesiastical, is her other book, Tips and Tricks of Deciphering German Handwriting. Worthwhile investment.

Katherine is fine genealogist and translator but foremost a good educator!

I am looking forward to seriously tackling my records with a new-found confidence and being able to share those efforts with my genealogy cousins. - Anne G.

I was able to begin to break the code and develop more confidence:

I had attempted to learn the old German script several different times on my own, and could guess myself through some things I needed to read. After I decided to work toward becoming an accredited genealogist, I knew I would have to do better at reading old documents. Trying to tackle the old script had been overwhelming to me, but with this course, I was able to begin to break the code and develop more confidence. Katherine's course was organized and doable and helped me get started. The way she organized and taught the course got me past the "I will never be able to learn this" wall that had been so overwhelming. I highly recommend this course to anyone who feels that old script is too difficult to master.

- Elizabeth Lee,

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
Access is unlimited! After enrolling, you have access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
Do I need any experience with German to take this course?
No experience with the German language is necessary! This course has an entire section focused on German vocabulary you will find in genealogy records - along with how to recognize these words in the old German handwriting. While this course primarily focuses on the script, you can't help but learn some German along the way!
This course would be a big investment for me. Is it worth the price?
It is! If you can learn to read the old German handwriting yourself, this will save you a great deal on paying for translations. Not that I want everyone to stop buying translations - that is my business, after all - but I am a teacher at heart, and I love to see my students succeed. I truly believe you can learn the handwriting, and that you will enjoy that sense of accomplishment you feel from deciphering your own ancestors' documents. It is fun, I promise!
Are refunds available?
If you are not satisfied with the course within 30 days of purchase, you will receive a full refund. We want happy customers!
Can I download and print the course materials or will I only be able to see them on my computer?
Many of the course materials can be downloaded and printed out. These include all vocabulary lists, all text documents and articles, and all practice records and their answer sheets. The video lessons cannot be downloaded, but you may watch them on your computer as often as you like. The interactive activities - flashcards, games, etc. - are also meant for your computer only, but the words that these activities cover are available in your downloadable vocabulary lists.
Is the course fun?
That was my main goal! As adults, we're no longer required to go to school - so when we choose to learn something, it should be a fun experience. This course includes flashcards, matching games, listening activities, and fun tests and quizzes - a style of learning for everyone!

Your Instructor

Katherine Schober
Katherine Schober

Katherine Schober, author of "Tips and Tricks of Deciphering German Handwriting" and "The Magic of German Church Records: Finding the Key to Your Ancestor's Past", is a German-English genealogy translator who has translated for both The History Channel and PBS' Finding Your Roots. She works with the old German script in letters, diaries, certificates, church records, and more, helping people like you decipher the clues to their ancestors' lives. With a Master's Degree in German coupled with a passion for history and language, Katherine truly enjoys working with the documents of the past - and knows this course will enable you to do the same!

Contact: [email protected]