Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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“Yes, it is in English.” Documents such as the "Warwick Patent," "Matthew Grant Diary," and other colonial records really are in English, although they look much different than what we're used to seeing today. For those not familiar with the handwriting and spelling conventions encountered in early records, here are some resources that may be useful when attempting to interpret old handwriting.
Paleography: Reading Old Handwriting. From the National Archives (UK). Also has a section on transcription and abbreviations.
Hill, Ronald A. “Interpreting the Symbols and Abbreviations in 16th and 17th Century English Documents.” Genealogical Journal 21 (1993): 1-13 [CSL call number CS 1 .G382 v.21].
Kirkham, E. Kay. The Handwriting of American Records for a Period of 300 Years. Logan, UT: Everton Publishers, 1973 [CSL call number History Reference Z 43 .K55].
_______________. How to Read the Handwriting and Records of Early America: The Reading and Interpretation of the Handwriting, Symbols, Abbreviations, Legal Terminology, etc. as Found in Original Records and on Microfilm. Salt Lake City: Kay Pub. Co., 1961 [CSL call number History Reference Z 113 .K5].
_______________. Simplified Genealogy for Americans. Salt Lake City: Deseret Books, 1968 [CSL call number CS 16 .K54]. Includes examples of abbreviated given names, signs, and symbols from early American documents.
Sperry, Kip. Reading American Handwriting. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998 [CSL call number CS 49 .S88 1998].
Stryker-Rodda, Harriet. Understanding Colonial Handwriting. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986 [CSL call number Z 115 .A58 S8 1986].
"A Guide to Editing and Publishing Family Manuscripts." Has a section on reading old handwriting and transcripts.
"Guide to Editorial Practice," Mark Twain Project
"Textual Editing at the Mark Twain Project: A Brief Account," which has, at the bottom, a section on "Editing Texts of Private Papers."
Prepared by Connecticut State Library staff, August 2008.