09 September 2015

Fabulous Frakturs

Last night as I was clickity-clacking away on my keyboard looking for one thing or another, I came across something that is simply fabulous - FRAKTURS!

Courtesy of www.philamuseum.org


A fraktur  is a type of certificate, most popular from the late 1700's to around 1900, used by the Pennsylvania Dutch to document births, deaths, family genealogies, and land purchases.  The most common type of fraktur is the taufschein, or baptismal certificate. It includes names of the child, father, and mother (with her maiden name); date and place of birth; name and denomination of officiating clergyman; and names of the witnesses present. Wedding frakturs may have pictures of a bride and bridegroom as in the image above. 

From the pension file of Philip Frey

Fraktur decorations vary greatly in design and color. All kinds of flowers were used, but tulips were especially popular. Birds, such as doves, cardinals, parrots, eagles, and peacocks appear in the borders.  Also among the designs were: the sun, moon, stars, rainbows, vines, leaves, trees, butterflies, and various fruit. 

From the pension file of  Christian Nichols

These early form of record keeping became very important in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when soldiers from the American Revolutionary War applied for pensions. Most people did not have birth certificates or registration to show proof of family, location, name and age, however some had frakturs.

From the pension file of Tobias Starry

These were placed in the case files of those seeking a war pension or a bounty-land warrant. The U. S. National Archives has them scanned and you can search to see if an ancestor submitted one.

The Wikimedia Commons site has placed these images, some 219, online so you can view them easier and if you find one you want, you can download the image as they are part of the public domain.

A few other places to locate frakturs online are 
Free Library of Philadelphia  and  Frakturweb.

From the pension file of Christian Roth

Next time you are at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah you must have a look at this book:

The Printed Birth and Baptismal Certificates of the German Americans (FHL US/CAN Book 974.8 A3st) is the full title of the Fraktur art and printing collection of Klaus Stopp whose interest was in the ornate Pennsylvania German folk art and unique style of lettering. His value for the genealogical content is reflected in the indexing of some 24,000 individuals of German American heritage. The certificates were created between 1738 and 1901.

Bound in red cloth with gold embossing of “BBCs” on the spine, this valuable collection can be found in the open stacks on the third floor of the Family History Library. Each of the six volumes is about 300 pages with a surname index of about 4000 names. The index includes the name of the child (Kind), the parents (Eltern) sometimes with the mother’s maiden name, and the witnesses (Taufzeugen) often grandparents or other relatives. 

I will finish by leaving you with this gem.  This is a fabulous short video made by the NARA Conservation Lab about Fracturs:


Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W3079, for Philip Frey, Pennsylvania.  Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344).  Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022).  File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W3079, for Philip Frey, Pennsylvania, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300194). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-W3079-SLIDE18.

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W2842, for Christian Nichols, Pennsylvania. Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344). Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022). File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W2842, for Christian Nichols, Pennsylvania, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300192). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-W2842-SLIDE48.

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File R10234, for Tobias Starry, Pennsylvania. Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344). Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022). File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File R10234, for Tobias Starry, Pennsylvania, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300033). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-R10234-SLIDE90.

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W14231, for Christian Roth, Massachusetts. Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344). Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022). File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W14231, for Christian Roth, Massachusetts, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300066). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-W14231-SLIDE68.

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