I'm trying to translate an old family bible from the 1870s and stumbled upon a cause of death of a child that I'm struggling with. The writing is in an old handwriting (Sütterlin?) so it's a bit of guesswork and it's not made easier by not being a native speaker... but I think it says

Den 7. Oktober 1870 ist uns das Kind Christina gestorben an der rothen Sucht

Picture of a handwritten page from the 1870s

I also found a reference to the same illness on archive.org though (https://archive.org/stream/hufelandsjourna47unkngoog/hufelandsjourna47unkngoog_djvu.txt) so I'm pretty sure the spelling is correct.

I have no idea what modern illness this translates to though. (Also if some kind soul can read this terrible script and want to transcribe the rest of the page I won't complain :P)

  • I amazed that how anyone could compreehend anything from this. I can't see any letter.s
    – Babu
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 20:57

3 Answers 3


I have no idea how you were able to decipher that as a non-native speaker. Good work! Yes, it's some kind of Kurrentschrift. Sütterlin was another type of Kurrentschrift, but it wasn't created until 1911.

Rote Sucht or Rotsucht should be measels (Masern), or maybe rubella (Röteln). See for example this list of diagnostic codes or DWDS. DWDS also mentions "Scharlach" (scarlet fever). There was prevalent use in Schwaben (Swabia).

Attempt of a transcription:

Den 7. Oktober 1870 ist uns das
Kind Christine gestorben an
der rothen Sucht. Text Es ist noch
eine Ruh vorhanden dem Volk
Gottes. Grab Schrift. Wohl dir
du liebes Kind, weil dich schon die
Engel Gottes leiten, nun darfst
du droben selig ruhn, und durch
die Himmel schreiten, fahre hin

"Es ist noch eine Ruh vorhanden" is the beginning of a church chant.

The Grabschrift is also a slightly altered chant. From Evangelischer Liederschatz für Kirche, Schule und Haus:

Wohl Dir, oh Todter, weil dich nun

  • The book at archive.org has this badly OCRed piece of text >> «BgebUch an der rothen Sucht (MorbiI{en) ge^ storben seyen << and "Morbilli" is apparently another name for measels which I didn't know so you are most probably correct.
    – Spade
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 20:31
  • Regarding the desiphering... A solid C-something language proficiency and lots of patience. Thanks for the encouragement :)
    – Spade
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 21:24
  • Such heartbreaking examples make you think that Pinker has a point... our children simply don't die from Measles any longer, period. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 13:48
  • 1
    The diagnostic distinction between measles, rubella and scarlet fever is difficult, if you only have the outer signs to go by. Rubella being a distinct disease seperate from measles or scarlet fever found international recognition in 1881. Scarlet fever being a bacterial infection also was only established durung the 19th century. I don't think these scientific dicussions had much impact on the popular understanding of "red diseases" - it could have been any of them.
    – ccprog
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 14:17
  • The modern diagnostic term for all of them seems to be Infectious Exanthem.
    – ccprog
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 14:22

(This actually rehashes remarks by OP in comments to a different answer:)

The Hufeland source actually provides the solution on printed page 92, first line:

an der rothen Sucht (Morbillen) gestorben seyen.

This can be resolved by reference works of this time as Brockhaus 1894 to correspond to Masern (measles) today.


German Wikipedia has a list of historical illness names, but Rote Sucht does not appear there.

My guess would be that Rote Sucht means scarlet fever (Scharlach in German). But measles also appears plausible.

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