The name "fraktur" is short for the german word frakturschrift which means "broken letter".
Fraktur was produced by the Pennsylvania Germans living in southeast Pennsylvania and other regions they settled. It describes a style of penmanship in which capitals and many of the small letters are formed with breaks between the strokes of the pen.
Fraktur was a popular form of decoration for religious and secular manuscripts, including the taufscheine (birth and baptismal records), vorschriften (writing examples), liebesbriefe (love letters), haus segen (house blessing), bookplates and rewards of merit (given to diligent students by the schoolmaster). Fraktur flourished in regions inhabited by the Pennsylvania Germans from the 1740's to the 1850's.
It was an important personal keepsake, often handed down from generation to generation.