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How to interpret the old handwriting?



DOne that often hinders many in finding out more about their own family is old handwriting. Sometimes such writing can be almost impossible to understand, but annoyingly, the only key to your family. The Digital Archive User Forum and Facebook often flood over by people who need help to understand what is written in older church books, and fortunately there are plenty of good helpers.


The best tip on the way to interpreting old handwriting is likely to be patient. Do not pull hasty endings. Old handwritten documents must be viewed as a jigsaw puzzle. Have you first learned how the writer in question designed a small "e" then you can mostly recognize all the e-mails throughout the text. If you continue so, calm and well-behaved, letter-by-letter, you have soon covered so much of the document that the rest says itself. If you are impatient and misinterpreted, it only creates problems for the following words / sentences you are struggling to understand



In order to be able to interpret the individual letter, you must of course have some prior knowledge. A letter does not necessarily look like today's edition and a Gothic letter from 1750 does not necessarily look like one from 1650. History layers and associations are good at keeping Gothic writing. It can be very informative and not least socially, to sign up for one of these. If you do not have time to wait for such a course or just need a refreshment, there are several solutions. On the net, you can learn Gothic at your own pace, using the University of Bergen's "On-line courses in Gothic handwriting". In book form, there are also good aids and reference books. The newest book on the market is called"The forgotten script - Gothic handwriting in Norway". It was written by Knut Johannesen and came out in 2007.


gothic app

In 2014, the Swedish Archives Agency launched a separate app called "Gothic handwriting". It was originally launched for both Android and Apple, but at the time of writing, it seems that it is not available at App Store.

The app can be used to develop its own ability to read Gothic handwriting and acts as both a learning tool and reference work. Starting from a church book with particularly fine and clear handwriting from approx. 1850, gives the app hundreds of examples of words you can practice.

"The app is a small course in Gothic handwriting, you can take your pocket and pick up when you want to," said project manager Bård Alsvik in the National Archives, when launching the app.

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