|Above are scans of a hand painted fraktur, belonging to Beverly Wheatley of Tiffin, Ohio. The document was created as a family register in 1877, representing Johann Gahn who was born April 14, 1848. He married Catherina Schmidt November 19, 1874. Catherina was born September 25, 1858. In the second image, it reads "CONRAD GAHN! Glory to God in the highest and on earth peach to all mankind."Fraktur is both a style of lettering and a highly artistic and elaborate illuminated folk art created by Pennsylvania Germans..Most were created between 1740 and 1860.|
Fraktur drawings were done entirely by hand in both ink and/or watercolors. Later, actual printed text became increasingly common.
Most fraktur, like that created for Johann Gahn, are personal records, such as birth and baptismal certificates. They can provide genealogists with a resource for tracing family histories.
According to the Free Library of Philadelphia, which holds a large collection, fraktur were also used to express religious beliefs or to help schoolchildren with their studies. Fraktur artists often decorated these documents with drawings of flowers, birds, stars, and other figures. You can explore online the large variations in fraktur drawings and lettering by examining the Free Library of Philadelphia's digital collection.