Many family historians experience great difficulty in reading and interpreting old documents, often because of the quality and the different styles of the handwriting; abbreviations may sometimes cause confusion, and use of Latin may also confound the family historian’s ability to understand what is written. Palæography is the study of these old handwriting styles. The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies offers at least one course each year devoted to this subject, not only training family historians in reading, transcribing and abstracting documents written in eighteenth century Engrossing hand as well as earlier Secretary and Court hands, but also identifying documents from the formulæ of key words and phrases used, expanding common abbreviations and demonstrating that even documents in Latin are not necessarily so daunting.

If you are unable to attend the course, or have difficulty with a specific document, experts at The Institute can interpret, transcribe and translate the document on your behalf. Please send us a copy of the document so that we can assess the problem and provide a quotation of the fees likely to be involved.

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