canstockphoto16180022 downloaded 3 January 2015I can remember the first time I tried to do research in some German church records of about 1870. I thought, “How hard can it be?” I had my German dictionary with me and all I had to do was look up the words, right?

I put the film on the reader and scrolled through the first few pages to get a feel for the record. Hmmmm. First, the handwriting was really hard to read, and second, they were not letters that I recognized! How could I look up words when I couldn’t even figure out what the letters were? Let’s just say it was a rude awakening and I failed in my efforts that day.

Now, you’re probably thinking you’ll be just fine. You’re not going to be researching in foreign records. Your research will be recorded in English and you read and write English. Right?

I would tend to agree if the records were created today. Most research will be in records created some time ago when the handwriting and some of the letter forms looked different. If you haven’t already studied the handwriting for the era of your research, you won’t be able to wring everything you need out of the documents you search.

Your assignment is to study the handwriting for the time and place of the records where you will be researching.

Here’s some tools you can use:

Now, when you finish this assignment, you will be ready to conduct your research!!!