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F&M College Library

German American Imprints

MS 29 Frakturschriften Collection


The following is a listing of "Fraktur" (hand-drawn and printed geburts und taufschein, haus segen, family registers and confirmation certificates; and vorschrift, bucherzeichens and drawings / sketches) located in the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Shadek-Fackenthal Library.

The core of this collection is from the Unger-Bassler collection of Pennsylvania German materials acquired in the early 1950s, with several additions from local donors. The inventory is in alpha-numeric order derived from notations located on the verso of the items. It is conjectured that these numbers were assigned during the original processing the Unger-Bassler materials in the early 1950's. However, no key to the alpha-numeric designations or other listings have been located. Unnumbered items may or may not be a part of the original Unger-Bassler collection, as materials most likely have been added to the collection since the 1950s. In the past, several museum-quality items from this collection have been transferred to the care of the College's Phillips Museum of Art for public display. Much of the collection was digitized in 2007.

Selected Bibliography on Pennsylvania-German Broadsides and Fraktur

Amsler, Cory M.  Bucks County Fraktur.  Doylestown, PA.: Bucks County Historical Society;  Kutztown, PA. : Pennsylvania German Society, c2001.


Bird, Michael S.  O Noble Heart/O Edel Herz: Fraktur and Spirituality in Pennsylvania German Folk Art. Virginia Beach, VA : Donning Co., 2002.


Borneman, Henry. Pennsylvania German Illuminated Manuscripts; a Classification of Fraktur-Schriften and an Inquiry into Their History and Art. Norristown, PA : Pennsylvania German Society, 1937; New York : Dover Publications, 1973.


Earnest, Russell D. and Corrine P. Earnest. Flying leaves and one-sheets : Pennsylvania German broadsides, Fraktur, and their printers. New Castle, Del. : Oak Knoll Press, 2005.


Earnest, Corinne P. and Russell D. Earnest.  Fraktur: Folk Art and Family. Atglen, PA. : Schiffer Pub., 1999.


Earnest, Corinne P.  Papers and Birth Days: Guide to the Fraktur Artists and Scriveners.  Albuquerque, NM : R. D. Earnest Associates, 1989.


Franklin and Marshall College. A Selective Guide to the Franklin and Marshall Fraktur Collection.  Lancaster, PA : Franklin and Marshall College, 1987.


Gilgenast, Trudy.  "A Sorrowful Song About a Terrible Murder; a Pennsylvania German Broadside from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries" in Der Reggeboge: Journal of the Pennsylvania German Society. V.24, No. 2 (1990-1992) pp. 53-60.


Library of Congress.  Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Printed Broadsides: a Guide to the Collections in theLibrary of Congress / compiled by Paul Connor & Jill Roberts for the American Folklife Center; introduction by Don Yoder.Washington : Library of Congress, 1988.


Lloyd, June Burk.  Faith and family: Pennsylvania German Heritage in York County area Fraktur. York, PA. : York County Heritage Trust, 2001.


Mercer, Henry Chapman. The Survival of the Mediaeval Art of Illuminative Writing Among Pennsylvania Germans. Doylestown, PA. : Bucks County Historical Society, 1871.


Moyer, Dennis K.  Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection. Kutztown, PA. : Pennsylvania German Society; King of Prussia, Pa. : Printed and bound by Centennial Printing, 1998.


Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. "Fraktur & Imprints" in Pennsylvania German Art, 1683-1850.  Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1984. pp. 48-53.


Pieske, Christa. 'The European Origins of Four Pennsylvania German Broadsheet Themes: Adam and Eve; The New Jerusalem - the Broad and Narrow Way; the Unjust Judgment; the Stages of Life.  in  Der Reggeboge: Journal of the Pennsylvania German Society. V. 23, No. 1 (1989-1991). pp. 6-32.


Shelley, Donald. The Fraktur-writings or illuminated manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans.
 Allentown : Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1961.


Shoemaker, Alfred Lewis. Checklist of Pennsylvania Dutch Printed Taufscheins.  Lancaster, PA. : Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center, 1952.


Weiser, Frederick Sheely. Fraktur, Pennsylvania German Folk Art.  Ephrata, PA. : Science Press, 1973.


Yoder, Don. The Pennsylvania German broadside : a history and guide. University Park, PA : Pennsylvania State University Press for the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania German Society, 2005.

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 mother's 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).