And I thought they just couldn’t spell…

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August 17, 2012 by quirkyuncle

If you’ve ever done any family history research, you’ve likely ended up looking over the old immigration documents, such as scanned ship manifests, on the Ellis Island website. It’s a great resource and totally free to peruse. If you’ve never checked it out, you should. It’s pretty amazing what you can find.

While the scanned pages provided are of great quality, the penmanship of the person that wrote them often is not. In their defense, I suppose filling these forms out all day long, using a fountain pen, was no easy task. This, coupled with our modern-day lack of cursive writing exposure, can make the documents rather difficult to decipher.

There is hope!

I found an article with tips for reading old handwriting that is very helpful. Turns out their spelling wasn’t so bad after all.


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