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The Search for Swiss Roots
608-527-6565
The Search for Swiss Roots
608-527-6565

Reading Your Ancestor's Documents - 2

When you get to the point where you can recognize words or phrases, the following information is important:
  • Dates are written in day/month/year format: 17/3/1815 or year/month/day: 1815/3/17.
  • An “m” or “n” with a straight line above it means the letter is doubled. Example: Johan with line over the “n” is Johann.
  • Capitalization: In German, all nouns are written with an initial capital letter not just first/last names.
  • Surnames can be underlined in the records.
  • A baptism may be written upside down or sideways to indicate an illegitimate birth/baptism.
  • If you see -in suffix added to a surname it signifies a female. Example Muller and Mullerin.
FamilySearch has a comprehensive list of German words with their English translations.  Click here.
Taufen = baptisms. The baptism register contains the name of the child, the name and occupation of the father, the name of the mother including her maiden name, and names of the sponsors.
If a child is born out of wedlock, the baptism information may be written upside down, or if the mother’s name comes before the father’s it indicates the child was born out of wedlock.
Toten/Todten registers = death registers. Death registers may include the profession of the dead person, the cause of death, the date and place of death, and the date and place of the burial. This register might also be called the Begaben Register, meaning the burial register.
Ehe Register = marriage register. This will list the married couple, sometimes their ages, their parents, whether the parents are alive or dead, the fathers’ occupation and towns of residence.
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Abbreviations in Registers:
  • b. is a Bürger or citizen of the town; it denotes the individual has special rights.
  • ehel. = eheliche or married.
  • evang/evg. = evangelische or evangelical/protestant.
  • geb. or g. = geboren or born.
  • ges. = gestorben or died.
  • get. = getauft or baptised.
  • J, M, T. = Jahre, Monaten, Tage or years, months and days.
  • kath. = katholish or catholic.
  • todg. = todgeboren or stillborn.
  • u. = und or and.
  • ux/uxor = spouse, generally the wife.
  • Xber / Xbr. / Xbris etc. =September is 7ber, October is 8ber, and November is 9ber.
Months of the Year
German|English
Januar, Jänner|January
Februar, Hornung, Horner|February
März|March
April|April
Mai, Wonnemonat|May
Juni, Brachet, Brachmonat|June
Juli, Heumonat|July
August, Augstmonat|August
September, Herbstmonat|September
Oktober, Weinmonat, Wymonat|October
Wintermonat|November
Dezember, Christmonat|December
Jahr, Jahreszahl|Year
Datum|Date
Measurements and Other Terms
German|English
Juchart|Measure of land, used for acre. Originally the amount that could be ploughed in one day, which varied considerably from place to place. In 1838 it was fixed at 36 are (= 0.89 acre) for the whole of Switzerland. The metric system became the only legally recognized system in 1877.
Kopf (pl Köpf)|c 4 liters (around 6 Köpf to a bushel)
Pfund (pre 1848)|c 500 grams
Scheffel (pre 1848)|c 55 liters
Zentner (pre 1848)|100 pounds
Zwischendeck|Steerage
Dorf|Village
Gemeinde, Landgemeinde, Grossgemeinde|Town
Grafschaft, Landkreis|County
Ort|PlaceStadt|City
Wohnort, Wohnstätte|Residence

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