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11 Tips For Reading Old Handwriting


If you've ever looked for your ancestor in old record sets, then chances are you've come across some pretty difficult handwriting to maneuver. Handwriting can be a challenge because not only has the English language evolved over history, spelling changed, the way we abbreviate words changed, just being able to interpret someone's unique style of writing can be a mystery and challenge in of itself. If you've ever spent hours browsing through our old record sets, such as some of our parish records or our recent release of the Britain Registers of Licences to pass beyond the seas, then you may have been baffled by the old handwriting.

Paleography, or the study of old handwriting, is an art form, to say the least. Not only does paleography require many years of careful studying and analysis, it is also deeply rooted in history and the understanding of historical documents. The good news is that you don't have to be a paleographer to interpret your family's records. With a few tips and strategies, you'll be interpreting those 1600's registers of licenses to pass beyond the seas in no time. Please do keep in mind that this is a very brief list of tips to help get you started with your own paleography research and is by no means exhaustive. Remember as you work at analyzing different texts, you'll get better at it. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect.