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Text for: How to decipher the letters


How to decipher the letters

As a child, you may have learned to write letters and numbers like these 20th century letter forms.


Some Danish letters look deceptively like handwriting used today. For example, a letter that you may think looks like a 20th century “B” , may actually be an old handwritten Danish “G” or

a “V” . It can be easy to misread old handwriting. However, if you follow the steps below, and practice, you can learn to develop the ability to read old handwritten records.

[[Image:]] = B

[[Image:]]= G

[[Image:]]= V

Follow the five steps below, to analyze and decipher a scribe’s handwriting.

1: Look for anything familiar to you in a record.

a. Look for any numbers, letters, and/or words that you are reasonably confident in identifying.

For example, look in the record below for any familiar letters, words or numbers.

Line 1

Line 2

Line 3

Line 4

Line 5

Line 6


Danish Christening Entry 1787

Did you see any of the following?

  • On line 1: The second word appears to consist of fairly distinct

letters (Visitationis).


The third word also appears to contain fairly distinct letters (Maria).


The fifth figure appears to be a number (2), followed by the word (July).

[[Image:]] [[Image:]]

  • On line 2, the third word , appears to begin with the capital letter “D.”


  • On line 3, in the fifth word , some letters appear to be similar to the word

on line 1.

[[Image:]] [[Image:]]

  • On line 5, the first word appears to be similar to on line 2.

[[Image:]] [[Image:]]

b. If you cannot read a word, go to step “2. Decipher unknown letters.”

If you think that you can read a word, go to step “5. Compare complete/incomplete words with words in

the Word Lists.

As needed, study the sample church and census records in the back of this guide.


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