From our August General Meeting Topic:


by Julie Terstriep



Would you like to volunteer to transcribe old documents?  Here are a few places looking for your expertise.



Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and

Smithsonian Institute

The National Archives

University of Minnesota – Civil War documents    (Phase 2 to begin soon)

University of Iowa  (Over 87,000 pages transcribed!)


Learning to read the handwriting:

Reading German Suetterlin handwriting

How to read Palmer Method Spencerian Script – free book on National Archives site:

Help with abbreviations:


Facebook groups :

Deciphering Genealogy Script

Genealogy Translations  – Group who will translate documents from one language to another.



From Find My Past blog (

  1. Analyze the record before you begin reading the handwriting
  2. Move slowly, very slowly
  3. Read for content first
  4. Conduct a letter by letter read and create a “key”
  5. Conduct a word by word read
  6. Read aloud
  7. Trace the handwriting
  8. Cross your t’s and dot your I’s
  9. The letter “s”
  10. “Th” and “y” and “y” and “t”

One common abbreviation in the past was to abbreviate “th” with a character that closely resembles the letter “y.” So, if you encounter a document that looks like “ye” that could mean “the.” You might also see the “e” written as a superscript because it wasn’t uncommon for the abbreviations to be written as the main letter with the rest superscripted with or without a line underneath.

You may also see “yt,” which is an abbreviation for that. “Y” is the abbreviation for “th” followed by a “t” would be “tht” or “that.”


  1. Take a rest.