In researching our household historical past, we spend a variety of time studying previous handwriting. It may be an enormous problem. Listed here are some ideas I’ve gathered over 20 years of working within the area. They break down into 2 classes: digitised paperwork and manuscripts. Let’s take a look at manuscripts first.
- Flatten out the doc and use pure mild the place attainable. This will have to be aided by further electrical mild if the writing is light.
- On longer paperwork like a letter, concentrate on one phrase at a time. It could assist to transcribe it. Depart blanks for any phrases you possibly can’t make out and protect unique spelling and capitalisation. After you’ve transcribed all of it, return and skim it aloud. A few of the phrases will change into clear from context. Equally, you possibly can kind up the doc.
- Use two items of clean paper to maintain your concentrate on the road in query. It helps to come out particular person traces.
- If attainable, scan the doc at a excessive decision so you possibly can zoom it up on a pc display screen.
Should you’re already working with digitised materials, for instance, a web page of a civil register, just like the one proven beneath, listed here are some additional ideas.
- Familiarise your self with the format of the web page. Is it a pre-printed type or a freeform doc? Learn all of the entries on the web page to grasp this correctly.
- Use a ruler to maintain concentrate on one line at a time.
- Should you’re having hassle with a selected phrase, search for different beginning letters the place the hand is clearer. Every clerk had their very own model of writing.
- Take into account what letters appear to be one another – M and N are apparent, however L and C or H and Ok in a cursive hand can look related.
When all else fails, get a second opinion, however watch out to not bias the opposite individual by saying “I feel it says X” as a result of then that’s all they’ll see. On the Boards.ie Family tree discussion board, we’ve got a dedicated thread for serving to individuals learn previous writing. If you’re asking for assist, at all times embrace a hyperlink to the unique picture, in order that others can zoom it up and mess around with it.
I hope these are of use. Let me know within the feedback if in case you have every other good ideas.
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