I am trying to read old German handwriting:

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Two words (pater and mutter) have the same prefix. It looks like "Sau" or "Gau"...the first letter looks like a German capital "S" with a large loop over the top so it looks almost like an American script "P". The "u"in both the prefix and "mutter" have umlauts. Can anyone help me interpret this? Thanks!

  • 5
    A line above a handwritten u is not an umlaut symbol, it just distinguishes it from an n (I think).
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 16:13
  • 4
    Maybe you also add a scan of the other word. Are you sure, that it really is "pater"? This is not a German word. It is latin. You use "Pater" (without any prefix and with uppercase P) in German only for a catholic priest, but I don't know any prefix that you might use with "-pater". I know just compound words like "Jesuitenpater" or "Benediktinerpater" where the fist part is the name of a monastic order. But non of them are used together with "-mutter", and they are all much longer than in your scan. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 5:30
  • This is a very helpful insight. The paper is very old and creased on the word "pater" or probably it is "vater" as you suggest. Thank you!
    – cabmurphy
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


That pretty definitely says Hausmutter.

The capital letter is a German "H" as in the attached picture off Wikipedia. The "hooks" on top of the "u" are there to make the "u" and "n" easier to distinguish from each other.

I would assume the other word says "Hausvater", then - "Pater" would be a Latin loan word that was used in religious context (monasteries and other organisations), but rather not in a secular one - And normally not combined with "Haus".

Deutsche Kurrentschrift, Von Deutsche_Kurrentschrift.jpg: AndreasPraefckederivative work: Martin Kozák (talk) - Deutsche_Kurrentschrift.jpg, Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9873345

Hausmutter and Hausvater were sometimes used in former times when more than one family was living in a large household - These two were informally denominated "the bosses" in that household and headed it. Today these "titles" have only survived in boarding schools, children's homes and youth hostels.

  • Wow! Thank you, this is very helpful! I found a handwriting chart of "Sutterlein". This is closer to the era I am trying to decipher. This is very insightful. I think the document indicates some kind of union (a marriage?) because it lists dates (I'm guessing birthdates) of the "Hausvater" and "Hausmutter" with a date in between.
    – cabmurphy
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 14:12
  • @cabmurphy the writing is called Sütterlin (after its developer), not *Sutterlein. Commented May 24, 2020 at 16:43

This prefix is


so the entire word is "Hausmutter". This is today the same as a "Hausfrau" (housewife) and according to the Grimm'sche Wörterbuch the leader of a big household.

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