Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A to Z Challenge – P is for Penmanship

Or lack of penmanship.  Reading old church sacramental records from Poland can be very challenging.  The handwriting ranges from elegant to chicken-scratch.

It would seem that elegant writing would be easy to read – but that’s not always the case. Flourishes and curlicues can make it difficult to read old European handwriting.  It can make it hard to distinguish between a J or an F or a T – or a P, R or B.

In many cases later 19th century church records were tabular. Column headings were printed on the pages to be filled in by the priest.

But earlier records that were in paragraph format can be a huge challenge. The image below is one of the easy ones.

In this high tech age, it seems that cursive writing may disappear completely.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing.



  1. When I first started reading records from Hungary, I was seventeen. I kept persisting and finally was able to read it, even the chicken scratches. I also have managed French records easily ( but I took French in school ). The Hoffman books helped me translate the Polish records, albeit slowly. But the Russian ones are my nemesis !