My mothers family was from Denmark. My fathers family was from Germany. In doing my ancestry research, I have found that the names of my ancestors included alphabetic characters that are not on my keyboard (or so I thought). So sometimes I copied and pasted, but other times I took a shortcut and “anglicized’ the name in a way that I thought was correct. After a bit, I realized, it would have been easier to do it right the first time.
Here are some examples of names of people and places in my tree that have ‘special’ characters:
- Sæby, Hjørring, Denmark – where my maternal great grandparents are from
- Mørk – My maternal great grandparents surname
- Dörr – German spelling of my surname Doerr and many ancestors
- Feußner – German surname of my 4th great grandmother (ß anglicized to ss but sometimes mistakenly replaced by a ‘b’).
These are just a few examples that turned up in my ancestry and I feel it is important to spell names as they were at the time. This not only helps when searching, but is just the right thing to do, IMHO.
Cheat Sheets and Online Tools to help
- Pat’s Cheat Sheet – I made my own ‘cheat sheet’ for Mac, which I’ve included below.
- Here is an online tool that is awesome. You can create a variety of characters for a variety of languages and copy and paste them into your document. It’s called typeit.org.
- I found a ‘cheat sheet’ for Windows at http://reeddesign.co.uk/pdf/WindowsAltCodes.pdf that may be helpful for windows users. It has many of the characters mentioned above and much more. A search engine search will provide many free cheat sheets for Windows and Mac.
Here is the cheatsheet I made for Mac. Feel free to download and print it.