Tips and Tricks For Reading Old Handwriting


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Tips and Tricks For Reading Old Handwriting

  1. 1. Tips for Reading Old Handwriting Katie Quick Derby
  2. 2. Paleography Letters that are written differently Words that are spelled differently Abbreviations Calendar Changes Latin Numbers
  3. 3. Online Paleography Tutorials BYU Enhanced Scrip Tutorial: Intro to Paleography: UK National Archives: English Writing 1500-1700: html
  4. 4. Books
  5. 5. Rule #1: Compare ● Compare and match unknown letters, characters, or doubtful words in the same document to determine if they are the same. ● Compare with words on the same page, and then look on the pages before and after the one in question. ● Compare with letters and words that are familiar to you.
  6. 6. Terms Annoque: And in the year Appurtenance: Rights and duties attached to land Banns: Publication of an intended marriage Base-Born: An illegitimate child Codicil: An addition or supplement to a will Enfeoff: Usually found in deeds; the transfer of land, granting of use Gaol: Jail Grantee: A buyer of property Grantor: A seller of property Hereditament: Property that may be inherited Holograph: A document written in the author’s hand
  7. 7. More Terms Imprimis: In the first place Intestate: The condition of dying without having made a valid will Legacy: A gift of money or personal property left in a will Liber/Libros: A book or volume Lis pendens: A pending lawsuit Messuage: A large house Metes and Bounds: Land description system Nee: Born Nuncupative: An oral will Relict: Widow of the deceased Uxor: Wife Yeoman: A farmer who cultivates his own land
  8. 8. Lowercase Letters that Acend b, d, f, h, k, l, t
  9. 9. Lowercase Letters That Decend g, p, q, x, y, z
  10. 10. Numbers Most numbers are likely to be written in Roman numerals, but with three interesting differences from the modern approach: 1. They will be written in lowercase rather than uppercase letters. 2. A single 1 or the last 1 in a series will resemble our modern j. 3. Four (4) and nine (9) are more likely to use four ones rather than the single 1 of today.
  11. 11. Calendar Change Under the Old Style, or Julian Calendar, the year ran from Lady Day, March 25th through March 24th. The Calendar Act of 1752 called for the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar which called for a year starting January 1st From 1582 to 1752 both styles of Calendar were in use throughout Europe. So items Dated between Jan 1st and March 25th were double dated, for instance : March 19 1691/2
  12. 12. Steps Called For in the Calendar Act of 1752 ● ● ● ● December 31, 1750 was followed by January 1, 1750 (under the "Old Style" calendar, December was the 10th month and January the 11th) March 24, 1750 was followed by March 25, 1751 (March 25 was the first day of the "Old Style" year) December 31, 1751 was followed by January 1, 1752 (the switch from March 25 to January 1 as the first day of the year) September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752 (drop of 11 days to conform to the Gregorian calendar)
  13. 13. Tips - Start with lowercase consonants - Fill in the vowels until something makes sense.Vowels were often interchangeable. For example the name Jonas might have been Jones, Jonis, or Jonus -A letter may change its appearance depending on whether it is the initial, interior or final letter in a word. -If you can’t read a persons name, see if the document has been indexed. Sometimes the person making the index was familiar with local names - Capital letters were used for emphasis, not according to capitalization rules as we know them today. -Punctation was rarely used -Spelling rules came about in the 19th century, so words and names were spelled many different ways. Try sounding out difficult words.
  14. 14. More Tips - Vowels were often interchangeable. For example the name Jonas might have been Jones, Jonis, or Jonus -Sometime a stroke or flourish will change the way a letter looks. - Transcribe an entire document leaving blanks and go back to fill them in - Sometimes a word is repeated from one page or line to the next or a double hyphen similar to an equal sign indicates that the word continues onto the next line or page.
  15. 15. Spelling and Punctuation -Capital letters were used for emphasis, not according to capitalization rules as we know them today. A capital letter can be detected by its size and the fact that there is often a horizontal or vertical line drawn across or through the letter to indicate that it is indeed a capital letter. -Punctation was rarely used. What you think are punctuation marks might be indications of a uppercase letter or abbreviation. -Spelling rules came about in the 19th century, so words and names were spelled many different ways. Try sounding out difficult words. Spelling was phonetic, changing with local accents.
  16. 16. Spelling Worse Than Mine -akers -coussen -estimacon -eyther -fower -noate -wagges
  17. 17. Abbreviation -pson, p’son, per = person -clk = clerk -Mass = Massachusetts -Ills = Illinois -Wm = William -Xtoph = Christopher -also used superscript letter as a form of contraction, such as Chas =Charles
  18. 18. Common Phrases -Know all men by these presents -We whose names are underwritten -To all Christian people to whom these presents shall come, greeting -In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this (date) -Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of (name) -This indenture made this...(date) -This indenture made and entered into this...(date) -I give and bequeath unto….
  19. 19. Money -Money was calculated in pounds, shillings and pence. -One pound = 20 shillings. The pound was represented either by ‘li’, or £: -One shilling = 12 pennies. A shilling was represented by ‘s’, -One penny = two halfpennies, or four farthings. A penny was represented by ‘d’, short for ‘denarius’, a Roman coin. -One halfpenny = 2 farthings. A halfpenny was represented by ‘ob’, short for ‘obolus’, a Roman coin. -One farthing = a quarter of a penny. A farthing was represented by ‘qua’, short for ‘quadrans’. -A 4d coin was called a groat. -There was also an amount of money known as a mark. A mark was not an actual coin, but an amount. It was worth two-thirds of a pound, that is 13s -
  20. 20. A
  21. 21. a
  22. 22. B
  23. 23. b
  24. 24. C
  25. 25. c
  26. 26. D
  27. 27. d
  28. 28. E
  29. 29. e
  30. 30. F
  31. 31. f
  32. 32. G
  33. 33. g
  34. 34. H
  35. 35. h
  36. 36. IJ
  37. 37. ij
  38. 38. K
  39. 39. k
  40. 40. L
  41. 41. l
  42. 42. M
  43. 43. m
  44. 44. N
  45. 45. n
  46. 46. O
  47. 47. o
  48. 48. P
  49. 49. p
  50. 50. Q
  51. 51. q
  52. 52. R
  53. 53. r
  54. 54. S
  55. 55. s
  56. 56. T
  57. 57. t
  58. 58. u
  59. 59. V
  60. 60. W
  61. 61. w
  62. 62. x
  63. 63. y
  64. 64. z
  65. 65. Remember ● If it looks like our r or t, it is their c. (Their c would not ascend like a t.) ● If it looks like our cursive o, it is their e. (Their o does not loop back over itself but resembles our printed o.) ● A curvy line that both ascends and descends is their h. (There is no modern counterpart.) ● If it looks like our u or w, it is their r. ● If it looks like our f but doesn't make sense, it is their s. ● If it looks like our p, it could be their x and a Roman numeral.