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It happens to the best of us. There we are, happily transcribing our German genealogical document, when we’re suddenly confronted with two obscure letters. What in the world do they mean? In Ten Tips for Deciphering Old German Handwriting and Ten *More* Tips for Deciphering Old German Handwriting, I discuss how frequent abbreviations are in German genealogy. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult! Below, I’ve compiled a list for you of some of the most common genealogical abbreviations and their meanings:
- u. – “und” (and).
2. v. – “von” (from).
3. b.v. – “beide von” (both from). This is often used when describing the residence of two people on a certificate , stating that they are “both from here.”
4. d. – “den” (the). Seen before a date, as in “d. 25.12.1924” (December 25, 1924).
5. geb. – “geboren” (literally “born”, but often translates as “nèe”). Usually seen after a woman’s married name and before her maiden name.
6. led. – “ledig” (single/unmarried). Usually before a name.
7. verh. – “verheiratet” (married)
8. Wwe/Wwer – “Witwe” (widow) or “Witwer” (widower). Seen in the place where an occupation would normally be, before a name.
9. männl. – “männlich” (masculine, male). Usually seen before the word “child” (Kind).
10. weibl. – “weiblich” (feminine, female). See above.
11. ev. – “evangelisch” (Protestant). This can also be abbreviated “evan.” Along the same lines, “kath.” stands for “katholisch” (Catholic).
12. Pfr. – “Pfarrer” (priest/pastor). Common in many church records and baptismal certificates.
13. weil. – “weiland” (deceased or the late). This would always be before a person’s name.
14. ehel. – “ehelich” (legitimate, as in a child is legitimate). “unehel.” is therefore “unehelich” (illegitimate). These words are common in baptismal records.
15. Bez. – “Bezirk” (district). Seen when describing where someone lives or where a document was issued.
16. d.d. – “de dato” (on this date). This is one of the Latin abbreviations frequently used in German documents.
17. p.t. – “pro tempore” (temporary or acting in the place of). Another Latin abbreviation, sometimes seen before a pastor’s name.
18. eod. – “eodem” (the same). Another Latin abbreviation found in genealogy documents.
19. ejusd. – “ejusdem” (in the same month or year). One last Latin abbreviation, usually denoting when someone was born, baptized, married, or had passed away.
So, German genealogists, don’t let those pesky abbreviations get the better of you. Use these helpful hints and share them with your fellow researchers using the button below. Together, we can conquer German genealogy!
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Helpful Abbreviation Websites:
Use these websites to find the entire German word and then use a German dictionary to find the meaning.