Seminar to offer tips to decipher handwritten documents

2:50 pm | May 3, 2013

The Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism in Blountville will hold a program to help people interested in genealogy and historical research learn to read handwritten documents.

“The Evolution of American Handwriting: How to Read Your Ancestor’s Documents” will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 16.
Ever have a problem reading your great-great-grandfather’s handwriting? Why did his handwriting change over the years? Why do spelling inconsistencies exist? How has handwriting changed from the 1600s to Colonial times on up through today?

While the artistic flair and flourishes of the early pen lend to a beautiful work of art in an old document, traditional historians and genealogists may find reading those old documents sometimes problematic. Additionally, archaic terms and special abbreviations add fuel to the fire; however, reading your ancestor’s old documents may be easier than you think.

The program will provide insight to genealogists on how to decipher some of their ancestors’ old documents. The multimedia presentation will also demonstrate how to quickly recognize some of the more commonly confused letters in old handwriting.

As part of the Genealogy Basics series, this special class will be held at the Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism located beside the historic Sullivan County Courthouse in downtown Blountville.

Pre-registration is required. The class is free and open to the general public. Seating is limited, however, and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis by pre-registration only. Reserve your space by calling 323-4660 or email

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