What’s That Letter?!?

One of the most challenging aspects of Decoding the Civil War is trying to read the thoroughly unfamiliar handwriting. Zooniverse user crmiller211 suggested compiling a document with 19th century letter and number forms, and we thought that was a great idea. Our initial effort has brought together a sampling of letter forms for A-Z. We hope that by bringing all of these examples together in one place we have provided a ready reference for our volunteers. A side benefit is that this resource may aid other researchers in search of information on historical handwriting.

If you have come across a strangely shaped letter that you want to share you can either tag the page with #whatsthatletter and indicate where the tricky character is located, for example, second line down third word from left. Or you can share a screencap on twitter, tagging @civilwarcodes, along with the HDL identification for the page so that we can find the original image. If you’re not sure where to find the identification, there’s a little “i” in a circle below each image. If you click on that, the Subject Metadata pops up.

subject metadata.jpg

To see the list of examples, click here.

One response to “What’s That Letter?!?”

  1. Marlys Hesch Sebasky says :

    This is very useful. When I’m really stumped, especially with a capital letter, I try copying their pen strokes–how was the letter formed? It seems to help ☺


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