Monday, April 10, 2017

TIPS: Working with German Newspaper Articles

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently found an article about one of my relatives from a 1916 German newspaper. I found the article on Chronicling America by searching for the surname: Kaechle. But, since I don't read German, I struggled with both transcribing and translating this article. In the process, I came across some tips I'd love to share:

Tip #1: Determine the Font

The initial "P" and "kk" in this word are difficult to read.

While many of the letters in this German newspaper article were easy to recognize, some were more challenging. For example, the above word looks like "Barffonzerte." The initial letter "P" and the "kk" do not look like are English P and kk. This word, "Parkkonzerte," translates to park concerts.

This font is calles Mars Fraktur Normal

After struggling trying to read the article, I finally found a font that helped me transcribed some difficult letters: Mars Fraktur. Again, the "s" at the end of Mars and the "k" in Fraktur do not look like our English letters. However, after printing out a copy of this font, I was able to transcribe the article letter by letter.

The Mars Fraktur font I printed off, though I cannot find the site now

Tip #2: Look on the Page for Related Articles

After finding the article that you are interested, look at the rest of the page. In fact, this tip doesn't just apply to German articles, as I have had success with this tip using English newspapers, too.

In this case, before I found the Mars Fraktur font, I was working on the article that mentioned Jerome Kaechle but I was having trouble decoding some of the letters. I decided to try to read some of the other headlines and create a letter by letter key. The article right above the article mentioning Jerome and the fire had this headline: "Driven from their beds by fire." At that point, I realized the article I had been translating, which even had its own heading, was just a part of a longer article! Reading the entire article gave me more details of this fire that my relative experienced.

Tip #3: Look for a Related Story in English Newspapers

50 Persons Flee for Safety in Big Fire, Lansing State Journal,
Lansing, Michigan, 4 August 1916, page 5, column 5,
digital image,, (
accessed 7 April 2017. 

With such a large fire, I assumed there would have been an article in English newspapers. Using, I did not find an article by searching for Kaechle. However, I did find an article by narrowing the year to 1916 and searching for one of the addresses mentioned in the article: 512 Ashland. Although this article had less information, it did include facts that were not in the German article. For instance, this article stated that "None waited to don their clothes, but began fleeing into the street in scant attire." And, "Many jumped from windows when they saw the stairway in flames."

Tip #4: Use the PDF Option and Paste Into Google Translate

This tip comes from my dad. When using Chronicling America, use the "pdf" option. After clicking on "pdf," copy and paste into Google Translate. You will need to make some corrections, but this is a wonderful start to getting an article translated. And, it will save a lot of time!

Tip #5: Ask for Help on Facebook's "Genealogy Translations" Group

Facebook's "Genealogy Translations" group has wonderful members who are always ready to help. And, they're fast! If you choose to post to the group, make sure you read the "rules for posting" first.


  1. I've always been too lazy to try to learn to read German scripts, but these are excellent tips for those who want to tackle it.I've come across it in Danish records, but happened to have been at the FHL so I got in line and asked for staff help!

    1. That's great that you can get that kind of help at the FHL! I should have added a 5th tip...ask for help at the Facebook group, "Genealogy Translations." They are amazing! But, I like learning how to do it for myself, too.

  2. These are great ideas, Dana! I especially like the idea of saving as a pdf then pasting into google translate. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I love that tip, too! I'm glad my dad figured it out. :)

  3. Great tips Dana! We have got to get together. Your research on Germans to Ohio is intersecting with my family so much. We're not direct relatives but our kin seem to have had similar experiences.

    1. Thanks, Devon. And, I would love to get together! I'll contact you.

  4. Yesterday I have been through ANNO (ANNO ist der virtuelle Zeitungslesesaal der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek), an Austrian gov. site with all these newspapers already digitalized. As you choose your publication it will take you to the selection of years, then months. As you open a particular file the images of all the pages appear. On the top right you can change it to another format: PDF or PlainText. I chose PDF and then using the tool "magnifying glass" I entered search words and was able to find very interesting family related details.


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