FFHS - supporting family historians for over 40 years

Old Handwriting Unlocked

extract of old handwriting

As we progress in family history, we encounter unfamiliar handwriting styles. Fortunately, help is at hand, thanks to The National Archives. Its free online tutorials includes a series specially geared to the needs of people who want to understand the various scripts used between 1500 and 1800.

The course includes tips on reading and transcribing documents. Copies of original documents with different levels of difficulty provide opportunities to practice your new skills. Background information covers how dates were expressed, numbers, money and measurements; this can avoid misinterpreting some of the details that we encounter in original sources.

A bibliography and an amusing interactive game complete the set of tools to help us decipher texts, even ones going back 500 years.

You can use this link to help unlock the stories waiting for you in parish registers, wills and a host of other material.


Francis Howcutt
FFHS Archives Liaison

7 February 2014

© 2014 The Federation of Family History Societies. All rights reserved

Registered Charity No. 1038721    Company No. 2930189 (England)

Page updated by the webmaster on 25 January 2014

website designed by Pete Hunnisett