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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
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.
Danish Christening Entry 1787
Did you see any of the following?
- On line 1: The second word appears to consist of fairly distinct
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).
- 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.
- On line 5, the first word appears to be similar to on line 2.
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.