Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Can you figure out this date?

Take a look at this birth record of Susanna Sudermann, daughter of Johann Sudermann, from the Neuteich Lutheran parish's register of Mennonite births in 1819 in West Prussia.  What is the date of birth (don't scroll down until you have an answer)?

Susanna Sudermann birth #2,  XX XXXXXX 1819, Register of Mennonite births, marriages, and deaths 1813-1903, Neuteich Lutheran church records, Neuteich, West Prussia, no page, FHL film #208236.

If you're having trouble, I've highlighted the month for you:

If you said 10 January, you would not be alone - because that is the date someone entered into the Grandma database. But you would not be right :-(

Take a closer look at the image below where I've highlighted the date information:

The words underlined in green are the day.  The Germans reads "d. ,31, ein und dreÿßigsten" which means "the 31st one and thirty."  In other words the day was written first as a number and then in words.  (Remember that German reverses the unit and the tens when writing out or speaking numbers.)  You'll also notice that thirty is not spelled the modern way - this record has "dreÿßig" but it would be "dreißig" in modern spelling.

The red underlined word is the month, "Januar," or January.

Finally the blue underlined words are the time, ",10, zehn Uhr Ab.," or "10 ten o'clock in the evening."  "Ab." is an abbreviation for "Abend" or evening.

So the date is not 10 January.  We do it all the time, myself included, but it's awfully risky to make assumptions about what something says if you can't read (or don't take the time to read) all the words.  Her birth date was 31 January 1813 at 10pm.

If you got it right, give yourself a big, gold star!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the reminder. I think that we as Americans are so biased in writing dates in the m d, y style, that when we see it in German sources, even though we know that it is always d m y style, that we just read it in the American way without realizing it. False cognates are also a big problem.