German Genealogy Tip #33: “Rufname”, A Person’s Preferred Name, Was Often Underlined

November 3, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

Rufname underlined

“Rufname” (“called” name) underlined in a German document

On one of my previous posts, a commenter named “Franz” mentioned a very helpful tip: Germans often had several given names. Many times, German individuals’ “first names” were very common: Johann or Hans or Anna or Martha. In order to differentiate themselves, they would go by one of their less common middle names: Balthasar, Karl, Carolina, Gertrud, etc. When they were mentioned in documents with their full name, their preferred name that they were called by–their “Rufname” (“Ruf” means “called”)–would sometimes be underlined.

Thus, if you see a name like “Johann Heinrich Rimbach” in a document, that means that the person preferred to answer to the name “Heinrich” (rather than “Johann”). Or, if you see a name like “Anna Martha Elisabeth Christine von Verschuer” in a document, that means that the person preferred to answer to the name “Elisabeth”.

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