So That's Where I Get It From

July 26, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #29: Practice Reading Handwriting

I’m a few days late for writing this, but I did try to do Challenge #29 and at the beginning of last week added a Will dated 1545 for Jone Reade as it was a perfect example of why I needed to practice reading handwriting such as this.  This particular Will is one that I really can’t decipher anything on so I was hoping that by doing this Challenge I would get to be able to read at least some of it by the end of last week.

Well, I have to say I am none the wiser regarding this Will, even though I checked the links and suggestions I was given in my comments section by very helpful ladies.

I liked the suggestion to go to Staples and have a large copy of the Will done, but our Staples is quite a long way away and because of other things, I wasn’t able to get there to get a large copy!!

Another suggestion was to use Picasa and so I went to use it only to find they had a download only for XP and Vista.  My poor computer died last year, so we now have Windows 7 and there was nowhere I could see to do a download for that.

I did a browse for Windows 7 and Picasa and found some forums that seemed to have people writing in with problems with Windows 7 and Picasa, so thought it best to leave that for now!!

At the Scanfest last night I “met”  Jasia who has the Creative Gene blog and she told me that Picasa is ok with her Windows 7, but although I now will give it a try, it’s a bit late to be included in this Challenge.

OK, there were still the links to tutorials and information about old handwriting.  I gave them a go, but they did not really help at all with my particular Will that I so wanted to decipher.  But, I did find some examples of English Wills of the 1500s and managed to see the alphabet, which is a great help.

I also learned that as well as abbreviations, some of which I already know from other Wills, the people of that time (and later) wrote in a kind of shorthand that they all knew (well, those that could read and write of course).  I had no previous knowledge of this and so knowing that a little squiggle after a certain letter means something and a little squiggle over the end of a word means it’s a longer word and a little squiggle somewhere else means something else is a great help.  I now know to look for the shorthand letters instead of trying to make out a word that I can’t decipher when it might be one of those shorthand words.  Wonderful.

So, although I did not succeed in deciphering the Will in time for the end of the week’s Challenge, I have learned quite a bit that is really going to help and so for me this is an ongoing Challenge and one day you might just see the undecipherable  (indecipherable(?)) Will being featured with a transcript on Amanuensis Monday!!


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