Old Handwriting for Family Historians (417)


Tutor: Helen Osborn


This course is part of our Advanced programme. There are a limited number of places available for those who are not taking the whole programme of advanced study.

Old handwriting, or palaeography, often presents difficulties for family historians. This course takes a practical approach to reading and transcribing Secretary Hand which was a commonly used form during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Family historians will come across Secretary Hand in many types of documents such as parish registers and wills and inventories. The course aims to equip students with their own set of steps to successful transcription, as well as provide insights into the development of Secretary Hand.

The course is an advanced course working with documents from the 17th century and is most suitable for all those who already have some understanding and practice with old handwriting in their own family history research.

STUDENTS SAID "The documents used for practice were varied and lots of useful tips were given. The internet links will be very useful for future practice"

Lesson Headings:
  • Introduction to Handwriting & Transcription
  • Secretary Hand
  • Transcribing Wills and Inventories
  • Parish records, deeds and abbreviations

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. NOTE: Students are asked to purchase A Secretary Hand ABC Book by Alf Ison, which is available from the online bookshops of The National Archives and the Society of Genealogists. See How the Courses Work.

Students receive one-to-one help and there is therefore a strict limit on the number of students we can accept on this course.

Relevant Countries: General

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 02 Oct 2017
Cost: £62.00
Course Full
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