Reading handwriting is part of the mystery and part of the frustration of indexing! Sometimes it’s a little difficult to submit a batch when you’re just not positive you spelled a name right. Well, don’t worry too much, because another volunteer indexes the same image you do, and any discrepancies are checked by an arbitrator. If all three of you are unsure of the correct spelling, the search tool in Record Search is advanced enough to include names in a search even if a few letters are incorrect or missing. To ease your handwriting burden even more, we have a few suggestions:
- Focus on the first few letters. If a name is hard to read, focus most of your attention on the first few letters of the given name and surname, as this determines where the person will be alphabetized in our search engine. For example, whether the name Elizabeth is spelled with a z or an s is not as important as knowing that the first two letters in her given name are El.
- Study the handwriting. In many cases, the same person who recorded the names on the page you are indexing also recorded the names on the images before and after. Feel free to use the previous or next image icon to study the handwriting and find a letter that looks like the one you are struggling to decipher in order to help you determine what it might be.
- Take some lessons. Just in case you were not aware, many new handwriting lessons—including Spanish, English, French, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Scandinavian Gothic, and Dutch—are now online. They can be found by clicking the Reading Handwritten Record Series link at FamilySearch.org. We also have some handwriting helps available at our Resource Guide.
Good luck and remember that we know you are doing the best you can and truly appreciate all your efforts. Happy indexing!