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Special Collections: German-American Imprint Collection

Selected Glossary of Fraktur Terminology


Bucherzeichen (bookplates) identified ownership of Bibles, catechism books, and hymnals, and would often include genealogical and date information.


Drawings (designs) of Pennsylvania German fraktur include pictorial drawings of animals, people, flowers, and structures; religious drawings of Biblical scenes and figures; and geometric designs and symbols such as stars, hearts, and talismans.


Geburts und Taufschein (birth and baptismal certificates) include both birth and baptismal information and are often simply referred to as Taufschein.


Haus Segen (house blessings) are prayers to God for the preservation of the house from destruction through fire, storm, or other calamity.  The blessings also offer benediction upon the owner, their spouse, and children, and upon all who enter and exit.  Frequently, blessings include a prayer for a virtuous life and a happy entrance into Heaven.


Taufschein (baptismal certificates) are the most common type of fraktur.  In addition to their artistic merit, they contain a wealth of genealogical information including the name of the child being baptized, the names of the father and mother, the motheršs maiden name, the date of birth, the place of birth, the name of the officiating clergyman, and the names of the witnesses present.


Vorschrift (writing examples) were used to teach children the alphabet.  They were written in their best penmanship, and usually contained Bible verses followed by the letters of the alphabet (upper and lower case).


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