Thursday, October 31, 2013

Handwriting, #3: Tutorials, Helps and Tips

Genealogy tip for today: Handwriting, #3Tutorials, Helps and Tips


We have been talking about handwriting the last couple of days. I have discovered there is an overwhelming amount of information on the Internet of sites that are available for help.


Some sites are designed to help you with script of foreign languages (other than English) some are designed to help you with English during different time periods. We had said we would look at scripts from 100 to 500 years ago. But I think instead of rehashing what has already been said in other places I will give you several links for you to check out.


If this is something that you are seriously interested in, these websites will not only give you good information but easy tutorials, and exercises that you can practice to improve your reading skills of older scripts or foreign languages.


One thing that was abundantly clear as I looked over other websites was that you need to practice, practice, practice. The more you do, the better you will get at reading older documents.  That sounds like a lot of things in life, doesn’t it?!!


Here are some of websites I found: 

The two links above came from this page, which has even more information.

Here’s another one  – an online tutorial. This looks like a good one and covers the time period I mentioned in the opening paragraphs.’s page on handwriting has several articles that are good to read.    

 As you explore this topic you will see there is a lot of information on the Internet regarding handwriting and how to read it.




Here are some tips that I have gathered from around the web that are good points to remember:

-Buy and use a good magnifying glass.

-Don’t guess – read carefully, interpret only what you see, not what you think.

-Use letters/words from one part of a document to help interpret a difficult part.

-Look for dates. Familiarity with dates can help with figuring out handwriting or letters.

-Create an alphabet chart as you figure out letters.

-Find and watch online tutorials on old handwriting.

-For vowels, substitute other vowels till the word makes sense. See if you can decipher whether a letter is a vowel or consonance.

-Figure out lower case letters first.

-Sometimes letters are open (like “o”) even when they are not supposed to be.


Here are some more tips. Reading other people’s handwriting is or can be a real challenge. But with helps and some “tricks” and a lot of practice, you will be able to read old documents and even solve some riddles of writing, heretofore unsolvable.


If any of these posts are helpful drop us a line in the comments section below. We just want to know if the information we provide to you is helpful in anyway.



Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg in Germany. Luther's theories and writings inaugurate Protestantism, shattering the external structure of the medieval church and at the same time reviving the religious consciousness of Europe.
Congress ratifies the purchase of the entire Louisiana area in North America, adding territory to the U.S. which will eventually become 13 more states.
A mob of about 200 attacks a Mormon camp in Missouri, killing 20 men, women and children.
Nevada becomes the 36th state.
After 14 years of work, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is completed.
The United States explodes the first hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
The bombing of North Vietnam is halted by the United States.
Saigon begins the release of 1,938 Hanoi POW's.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated in New Delhi by two Sikh members of her bodyguard.
Iraq announces it will no longer cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.
EgyptAir Flight 990 crashes into Atlantic Ocean killing all 217 people on board.
Soyuz TM-31 launches, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station.
Former Enron Corp. CEO Andrew Fastow convicted on 78 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and wire fraud; the Enron collapse cost investors millions and led to new oversight legislation.

John Keats, poet.
Benoit Fourneyron, inventor of the water turbine.
Juliette Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.
Chiang Kai-Shek, Chinese Nationalist.
Ethel Waters, actress and blues singer.
Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Brazilian poet, journalist and short story writer.
William H. McNeil, historian (The Rise of the West).
Charles Moore, influential post-modern architect.
Michael Collins, U.S. astronaut.
Dan Rather, journalist; anchor of CBS Evening News (1981–2005).
Michael Landon, actor (Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie TV series).
Tom Paxton, folk singer, songwriter, musician; received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2009).
David Ogden Stiers, actor; best known for his role as stuffy Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III on M*A*S*H* TV series (1977–1983).
Jane Pauley, journalist; co-host of The Today Show (1976–1989) and Dateline NBC (1992–2003).
Antonio Taguba, retired US Army major general best known for authoring the Taguba Report on abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq; Taguba is the second American citizen of Philippine birth to reach the rank of general in the US Army.
Sir Peter Jackson, New Zealand film director, producer, screenwriter (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit)
Larry Mullen Jr., musician; drummer for U2 band.
Infanta Leonor of Spain, second in line of succession to the Spanish throne.








noun: A timid, unassertive person.



After Caspar Milquetoast, a comic strip character by H.T. Webster (1885-1952). A synonym of the word is milksop. Earliest documented use: 1932.



"Martin Oberman: This is a very tough place. You can't be a milquetoast."
Peter Slevin; Testing Rahm; The Washington Post; Sep 13, 2012.

Explore "milquetoast" in the Visual Thesaurus.


Poetry should please by a fine excess and not by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance. -John Keats, poet (1795-1821)



Today’s Recipe

Treats, No Tricks!
This isn’t a recipe for something to eat, but it is about food!!! :-)
Click on the title above and it will take you to some tips in carving your best pumpkin ever!!
Now You Know!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Handwriting, #2: History



Genealogy tip for today: Handwriting, #2: History  

Handwriting has been around ever since man learned to form thoughts into words and record them on some surface.  It progressed from markings, to picture forms, i.e. hieroglyphics, to actual letters and alphabets. This gave opportunity to variations of how letters were written, even within the same language – from person to person. (One person’s lower case “s” may look like another person’s “r”.) It has only been in the relevant recent past that typing, printing (press), or keyboarding has changed how we record our thoughts and words. Now we
have standard, consistent, exactly alike – all the time writing through the mechanical means of technology.


It is an interesting history how we developed our alphabets and writing, from Egyptian and Phoenician times to today. If you are interesting in reading a short article on it, I found this website that gives you an overview. To me it’s a fascinating story.


When I was in library school, over 10 years ago, we studied the whole concept of information, thoughts, words, alphabets, language, etc. and how they all came about. I discovered there were two things that were important in any society, no matter how developed they were, or weren’t! Those two things are a society’s religion and their genealogy: who they are and what they believe. This took on all kinds of forms in different parts of the world. The totem poles and the coat of arms are two examples. Even before anything was put down in writing, these two areas of importance found a way to be recorded in many, early societies. Today, another example is the Family Bible – faith and family.

Now with the explosion of the Internet, we have information to the point of overload. English, being the language of the marketplace, has nearly become a universal language, and with the Internet they make communication available virtually anywhere in the world.

Language changes, terminologies come and go, as well as the constant change of current technology, and thus how things are recorded. All of this impacts how we go about doing our research. Tomorrow we will look at language and writings from 100 to 500 years ago, what helps we may have in accurately interpreting the writings and – if we have time and space - tips to assist us in our endeavor.



If any of these posts are helpful drop us a line in the comments section below. We just want to know if the information we provide to you is helpful in anyway.




The Seventh Crusade ends by the Treaty of Barbary.
Henry VII of England crowned.
The Treaty of Ryswick ends the war between France and the Grand Alliance.
Oberlin Collegiate Institute in Lorian County, Ohio becomes the first college in the U.S. to admit female students.
Two battalions of British troops are cut off, surrounded and forced to surrender to General Petrus Joubert's Boers at Nicholson's Nek.
The czar of Russia issues the October Manisfesto, granting civil liberties and elections in an attempt to avert the burgeonng supprot for revolution.
The Italians capture Vittorio Veneto and rout the Austro-Hungarian army.
Turkey signs an armistice with the Allies, agreeing to end hostilities at noon, October 31.
Mussolini sends his black shirts into Rome. The Fascist takeover is almost without bloodshed. The next day, Mussolini is made prime minister. Mussolini centralized all power in himself as leader of the Fascist party and attempted to create an Italian empire, ultimately in alliance with Hitler's Germany.
Scotsman John L. Baird performs first TV broadcast of moving objects.
H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds is broadcast over the radio by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. Many panic believing it is an actual newscast about a Martian invasion.
The U.S. destroyer Reuben James, on convoy duty off Iceland, is sunk by a German U-boat with the loss of 96 Americans.
The First Marine Division is ordered to replace the entire South Korean I Corps at the Chosin Reservoir area.
US Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower formally approves a top secret document to maintain and expand the country's nuclear arsenal.
The USSR detonates "Tsar Bomba," a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb; it is still (2013) the largest explosive device of any kind over detonated.
US Marines repeal multiple-wave attacks by Viet Cong within a few miles of Da Nang where the Marines were based; a sketch of Marine positions was found on the body of a 13-year-old boy who had been selling the Americans drinks the previous day.
The Bosphorus Bridge is completed at Istanbul, Turkey, connecting Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus Strait.
The "Rumble in the Jungle," a boxing match in Zaire that many regard as the greatest sporting event of the 20th century, saw challenger Muhammad Ali knock out previously undefeated World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman.
Prince Juan Carlos becomes acting head of state in Spain, replacing the ailing dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.
Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off for its final successful mission.
BET Holdings Inc., becomes the first African-American company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The rebuilt Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) that was destroyed during the firebombing of Dresden in WWII is rededicated.



John Adams, second president of the United States who helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolution.
Richard Sheridan, playwright (The Rivals, The School for Scandal).
Alfred Sisley, landscape painter.
Gertrude Atherton, novelist.
Paul Valery, poet and essayist.
William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., American admiral who played an instrumental role in the defeat of Japan during World War II. The Japanese surrender was signed on his flagship, the USS Missouri.
Ezra Pound, American poet who promoted Imagism, a poetic movement stressing free phrase rather than forced metric. He was imprisoned for his pro-Fascist radio broadcasts.
Ruth Gordon, Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe–winning actress (Harold and Maude, Rosemary's Baby).
Hermann Fegelein, SS general of WWII who was brother-in-law to Adolf Hitler's mistress Eva Braun.
Fred W. Friendly, president of CBS News and co-creator of the documentary series See It Now, the program largely credited for bringing down Sen. Joe McCarthy.
Clifford "Brpwnie" Brown, influential jazz trumpeter and composer ("Joy Spring," "Daahoud").
Dick Vermeil, head coach of the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles (1976–1982), St. Louis Rams (1997–1999), and Kansas City Chiefs (2001–2005).
Grace Slick, singer, songwriter; lead singer for the bands The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship.
Henry Winkler, actor, director, producer; rose to fame as "The Fonz" on Happy Days TV series, a role that twice earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.
Tory Belleci, filmmaker and model maker known for his work on the Mythbusters TV series; also worked on two Star Wars films.




adjective: Fat, jolly, and convivial.

After Sir John Falstaff, a character in Shakespeare's plays Henry IV (parts 1 & 2) and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Earliest documented use: 1809.  

"His hair was long and scruffy, his ties ludicrous and his manner jovial bordering on Falstaffian; a board meeting, for him, was a debate, punctuated by gales of his maniacal laughter."
John Harvey-Jones; The Economist (London, UK); Jan 17, 2008.

The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation. - Ezra Pound, poet (1885-1972)



Today’s Recipe

Treats, No Tricks!


Ingredients for 1 foot
1 kg ground beef or turkey or chicken
1.5 onions
1 egg
4 garlic cloves
salt, pepper, paprika powder sweet
1 tbsp instant broth
chili sauce or red eatable color

Cooking Instructions
- cut onion in half and cut from each half a 1 cm thick slice – this is the bone.
- from the outer layer of the onion cut toe nails.
- chop the remaining onion in small cubes, garlic cloves as well.
- mix ground meat with egg, spices and ketchup.
- on baking paper form 2 feet out of the meat.
- pre-heat oven on 200 degrees C or 350 F.
- add chili sauce on top (cut off part of the foot!) so it looks like blood, place on top 1 onion slice.
- cut the onion in small pieces and place them as nails on top of the toes. [If you have a miniature biscuit cutter, use it to cut out the nails. it will give them a nice even curved cut. Ed.]
- bake the feet for 30 minutes and 10 minutes before the end, add some more chili sauce on the top of the foot.

Enjoy your feet warm or cold with baguette bread, potato salad or pasta with tomato sauce or mustard.



Now You Know!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013



Genealogy tip for today: Handwriting

Handwriting of the past can be difficult to read for a number of reasons. Faded, poor quality/condition of the document or its copy, age, even the time period in which it was written. I found a website which talks about the double “s” and how it is handled today. Following is an article that was written describing the rules for it:

I’ve occasionally thought about writing a post on the “long s” of eighteenth-century (and earlier) typography. That’s the lowercase character ſ (or ſ when italicized). To unfamiliar eyes, it looks so like an f that many people, and O.C.R. programs, think people actually spelled with extra fs and try to transcribe words that way.

Andrew West at Babelstone has created a comprehensive guide to the use of the long s, not just in English over time but also in other European languages. Furthermore, in some periods English printers also followed exceptional rules for ſ based on what letters it came before or after.

Here are West’s simple rules for English:

  • short s is used at the end of a word (e.g. hiscomplainsſucceſs)
  • short s is used before an apostrophe (e.g. clos’dus’d)
  • short s is used before the letter f (e.g. ſatisfactionmisfortunetransfuſetransfixtransferſucceſsful)
  • short s is used after the letter f (e.g. offset), although not if the word is hyphenated (e.g. off-ſet) [see Short S before and after F for details]
  • short s is used before the letter b in books published during the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century (e.g. husbandShaftsbury), but long s is used in books published during the second half of the 18th century (e.g. huſbandShaftſbury) [see Short S before B and K for details]
  • short s is used before the letter k in books published during the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century (e.g. skinask, risk, masked), but long s is used in books published during the second half of the 18th century (e.g. ſkinaſkriſkmaſked) [see Short S before B and K for details]
  • Compound words with the first element ending in double s and the second element beginning with s are normally and correctly written with a dividing hyphen (e.g. Croſs-ſtitchCroſs-ſtaff), but very occasionally may be written as a single word, in which case the middle letter s is written short (e.g. Croſsſtitchcroſsſtaff).
  • long s is used initially and medially except for the exceptions noted above (e.g. ſonguſepreſsſubſtitute)
  • long s is used before a hyphen at a line break (e.g. neceſ-ſarypleaſ-ed), even when it would normally be a short s (e.g. Shaftſ-bury and huſ-band in a book where Shaftsbury and husband are normal), although exceptions do occur (e.g. Mans-field)
  • double s is normally written as double long s medially and as long s followed by short s finally (e.g. poſſeſspoſſeſſion), although in some late 18th and early 19th century books a different rule is applied, reflecting contemporary usage in handwriting, in which long s is used exclusively before short s medially and finally [see Rules for Long S in some late 18th and early 19th century books for details]
  • short s is used before a hyphen in compound words with the first element ending in the letter s (e.g. croſs-piececroſs-examinationPreſs-workbird’s-neſt)
  • long s is maintained in abbreviations such as ſ. for ſubſtantive, and Geneſ. for Geneſis (this rule means that it is practically impossible to implement fully correct automatic contextual substitution of long s at the font level)

Imagine being a printer’s apprentice trying to keep that all straight! No wonder the character was phased out around 1800.

(Hat tip to John Overholt about that Babelstone page.)




If any of these posts are helpful drop us a line in the comments section below. We just want to know if the information we provide to you is helpful in anyway.




Sir Walter Raleigh is executed. After the death of Queen Elizabeth, Raleigh's enemies spread rumors that he was opposed the accession of King James.
Mozart's opera Don Giovanni opens in Prague.
The Demologos, the first steam-powered warship, launched in New York City.
Leon Czolgosz is electrocuted for the assassination of US President William McKinley. Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot McKinley on September 6 during a public reception at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, N.Y. Despite early hopes of recovery, McKinley died September 14, in Buffalo, NY.
Russian archaeologist Peter Kozloff apparently uncovers the tomb of Genghis Khan in the Gobi Desert, a claim still in dispute.
Black Tuesday–the most catastrophic day in stock market history, the herald of the Great Depression. 16 million shares were sold at declining prices. By mid-November $30 billion of the $80 billion worth of stocks listed in September will have been wiped out.
The first ball-point pen goes is sold by Gimbell's department store in New York for a price of $12.
Alonzo G. Moron of the Virgin Islands becomes the first African-American president of Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia.
French forces launch Operation Lorraine against Viet Minh supply bases in Indochina.
Thieves steal a jewel collection–including the world's largest sapphire, the 565-carat "Star of India," and the 100-carat DeLong ruby–from the Museum of Natural History in New York. The thieves were caught and most of the jewels recovered.
The U.S. Supreme Court orders immediate desegregation, superseding the previous "with all deliberate speed" ruling.
First computer-to-computer link; the link is accomplished through ARPANET, forerunner of the Internet.
Palestinian guerrillas kill an airport employee and hijack a plane, carrying 27 passengers, to Cuba. They force West Germany to release 3 terrorists who were involved in the Munich Massacre.
More than 500,000 people protest in The Hague, The Netherlands, against cruise missiles.
The last stretch of Britain's M25 motorway opens.
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission reports condemns both sides on the Apartheid issue for committing atrocities.
John Glenn, at age 77, becomes the oldest person to go into outer space. He is part of the crew of Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-95.
The deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record up to that time, Hurricane Mitch, makes landfall in Honduras (in 2005 Hurricane Wilma surpassed it); nearly 11,000 people died and approximately the same number were missing.
For the first time, Osama bin Laden admits direct responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US; his comments are part of a video broadcast by the Al Jazeera network.
Delta and Northwest airlines merge, forming the world's largest airline.
Hurricane Sandy devastates much of the East Coast of the US; nearly 300 die directly or indirectly from the storm.


Jean Giraudoux, French dramatist, novelist and diplomat, famous for his book Tiger at the Gates.
Fanny Brice, comedian, singer and actress.
Joseph G. Göbbels, German Nazi Propaganda Minister who committed suicide in Hitler's bunker.
Henry Green, novelist (Living, Party Going).
A. J. Ayer, English philosopher.
Bill Maudlin, American cartoonist whose GI characters "Willie" and "Joe" appeared in Stars and Stripes newspapers during World War II.
Ralph Bakshi, Palestinian-American director of live films and animated full-length films for adults including 1972's Fritz the Cat (first animated film to be rated X by the Motion Picture Association of America), Wizards (1977) and The Lord of the Rings (1978).
Don Simpson, film producer, screenwriter, actor; (co-producer Flashdance, 1985; Top Gun, 1986).
Melba Moore, disco and R&B singer, actress ("You Stepped into My Life," "Lean on Me").
Peter Green, guitarist, songwriter, founder of the band Fleetwood Mac; regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
Richard Dreyfuss, actor (American Graffiti, Jaws; won Academy Award for Best Actor for 1977's The Goodbye Girl).
Kate Jackson, actress, director, producer (original Charlie's Angels TV series, Scarecrow and Mrs. King TV series).
Lee Child, author; creator of the Jack Reacher novel series.
David Remnick, journals, author, magazine editor (The New Yorker); won Pulitzer Prize for Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire (1994).
Winona Ryder, actress, producer (Beetlejuice; Girl, Interrupted).








noun: A habitual faultfinder or complainer.



After Smelfungus, a hypercritical character in Laurence Sterne's 1768 novel, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Earliest documented use: 1807.



Novelist Laurence Sterne modeled his character Smelfungus after traveler and author Tobias Smollett who complained about almost everything in his 1766 travel book Travels through France and Italy. Here's how Sterne describes Smelfungus:
"The learned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on; but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he pass'd by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote an account of them, but 'twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings."



"And a couple of smellfungus from the Official Paper ... carped that Issel chose to jump when the schedule reached its toughest stretch."
Paige Woody; Issel is the Wrong Scapegoat in Nuggets' Mess; Denver Post; Feb 13, 1995.



What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)



Today’s Recipe

Treats, No Tricks!



  • 1 (6-ounce) package lime gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups chilled pineapple juice
  • 1 (2 liter) bottle chilled lemon-lime soft drink or ginger ale


Special equipment:

  • 1 large black plastic cauldron (available at party or craft stores)
  • 1 punch bowl that fits inside the cauldron
  • 1 plastic hand (available at party supply stores), sterilized in hot water
  • 1 block dry ice (available at supermarkets, ice cream shops or ice companies)


Pour the gelatin mix into a large bowl. Slowly stir in the boiling water. Stir at least 2 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the pineapple juice. Let cool to room temperature.

Wearing heavy duty gloves or using tongs, place the block of dry ice in the bottom of the cauldron. (Dry ice will burn skin, so handle it with gloves and tongs and keep it away from kids and pets!)

Use an ice pick to break the block into smaller chunks, if necessary.

Fill the cauldron with just enough water to cover the dry ice. It will begin to "steam."

Place the punch bowl inside the cauldron, on top of the dry ice. The cauldron will appear to be magically smoking.

Entrap the sterilized rubber hand between the cauldron and the punch bowl, squeezing it tight so the hand appears to be reaching out of the mist for help. Hot-glue the hand to the cauldron, if necessary, to hold it in place.

Carefully pour the drink mixture into the punch bowl. Slowly add the lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Stir gently to mix.





Now You Know!