There’s Help for Reading Old Documents

by on April 14th, 2014

Recently I joined several other  ICPL staff members who attended the Public Library Association conference.  We were in the unfortunate position of having to choose just one session from ten or twelve in each time slot, but a lucky choice I made was a session on helping genealogists–both experienced and brand-new ones–use public library resources.  My favorite tidbit from that session was the discovery of the handwriting tutorials in FamilySearch.

Scandinavian Gothic Script

FamilySearch is produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and searches genealogical records worldwide including the International Genealogical Index, and census and other vital statistics sources.  You can find a link to it among the online resources on our website in the Biography, History and Genealogy category.  FamilySearch provides many tutorials on doing genealogy, for all levels of experience.

If you have ever looked at original source documents, such as census forms or ship passenger lists or church records, you know that reading old-fashioned handwriting can be difficult.  When those documents are in other languages, the challenges increase exponentially.  The FamilySearch tutorials on the scripts of many languages–including English–can help.  Pictured above and below are examples of Scandinavian Gothic.  The tutorials are self-guided, and usually incorporate opportunities for practice.

To access the tutorials, you do need to create an account within FamilySearch.  There is no charge to do so.  You can find the handwriting lessons under Get Help/Learning Center Video Courses; it’s easiest to then search by the country you are interested in.

Scandinavian Gothic, Similar Letters

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