Old Handwriting
Pages 1 and 2


In a search through the census schedules, it is helpful to become familiar
with a few variants of spelling and letter formation. Until the turn of the
century (1900), spelling was phonetic, words were spelled as they sounded.
To obtain complete use of any index, it is important to anticipate the
different possibilities then to use the index accordingly.

Each scribe had his own peculiar style. Nevertheless, it is possible to form
some generalities, the study of which will greatly improve the thoroughness of
research. The following guidelines are based on editorial conclusions from this
1800 census and should not be taken as definitive statements on early penmanship.

Another good source of information about old handwriting is found at "Deciphering Old Handwriting," an
excerpt from a course taught by Sabrina J. Murray. Please keep in mind that the data is copyrighted.
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