The October 8, 2009, meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library in Edwardsville, Illinois.
President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.
In the absence of our
Treasurer LaVerne Bloemker, President, Robert Ridenour presented
the financial report for the month of September 2009.
Dues for 2010 are
now being accepted. We would very much appreciate receiving your
renewal checks by 1 January 2010. Present members will receive
one more Stalker in December and two Newsletters in November and
Do you have a family
member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy?
A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would
be a very thoughtful Holiday Gift. A gift card will be sent to
the recipient of any gift membership.
The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00
Contact our Secretary, Barbara Hitch, at firstname.lastname@example.org, about a gift membership.
On October 8, 2009, Linda Osterdock presented a program titled Deciphering Handwritinng in American Documents.
Ms. Osterdock began
her presentation by comparing the appearance of Colonial era letters
to modern day versions. She supplied hand-outs which had several
examples of each character, both upper and lower case, as written
during the Colonial era.
Because of the origins of the early Colonial settlers, documents of that period may contain one or more of several languages - Latin, French, English, Spanish, Dutch, or even Native American. The presentation given by Linda concentrated on English.
Elizabeth Shown Mills has commented that the further back in time you go, the more plain English looks like a foreign language. Very early documents did not use punctuation or spacing between words. So you may have to make a translation of a continuous string of strange characters into known English words.
Ms. Osterdock gave several helpful hints for reading old handwriting:
Common Helpful Hints for Reading Old Handwriting
Suggestions From Elizabeth Briggs, The National Institute for Genealogical Studies
The material distributed
to attendees by Ms. Osterdock included a list of common abbreviations
and contractions and a list of old style abbreviations of proper
names. She also discussed the Thorn and Yogh. The Thorn and Yogh
were hand-written characters that represented "th" and
"gh," respectively. When movable type was first used
in England in 1476, the typesets purchased from the continent
did not contain these characters. The English "y" was
used as a substitute for the Thorn, so "ye" would become
"the" and "yt" or "yat" would become
"that." The Yogh, as written, appears somewhat like
an Arabian "3" with a tail, and represents the sound
of "gh" in "cough," "trough," etc.
The handout also included a list of books, websites, and classes on deciphering old handwriting. This list is available at the following link.
Deciphering Old Handwriting