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Making sense of old handwriting


Abbreviations in Genealogical Records


Everyone agrees that one of the most complicating factors of reading old handwritten records is the common use of abbreviations. This is due to the repeated use of the same words in records of the same type; most scribes would speed up the recording process and attempt to save paper or expensive vellum, ink, and time by abbreviating common given names, last names, and other words using certain abbreviating conventions. Yet, as a consequence, it makes some documents almost inaccessible to the regular reader who is not initiated into the scribe tradition.

The information on this page will provide the tools and resources to help you unravel the many abbreviations you will doubtless find while searching through old records. While first getting accustomed to French abbreviations, we recommend that you consult the following list:

Common Abbreviations


Paleography Introduction