St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dotting the I's, Crossing the T's and Reading Ye Olde Documents

True genealogy buffs know what it is like to struggle to read old documents.  Not only can the microfilm be scratched or faded, the writing can be akin to a different language.  I've seen "s" written as "f".  And the slant? Oh my, however did they read their own writing?

Just when you're ready to throw your hands up in the air and run out to purchase even more eye drops for the inevitable eye strain, there's hope in our wonderful age of technology.

Did you realize you can get rid of the neck cricks from angling your head to one side as you try to decipher the old handwriting?  Tis easy, I say.

Let's take this document as our example.

This is an 1852 affidavit of William Shaw providing details of Robert COLEMAN and his wife, Prudence.  The lovely widow Prudence had applied for a Revolutionary War pension and this document is part of the packet held by NARA.  You will note it's easier to make out some words if your squint and hold your head to the left.

Now, take a look after a little stroke of the keyboard.

The effect used on the document is found on Photoshop.  After opening Photoshop, go to image on the toolbar.  Go to "transform" in the drop down menu and choose "skew."  Then, grab the top of the document and head left until you are happy with the slant.  This is a great tool to use.  I image that other photo editing programs also allow for skewing.

What fun this is, and just think how much it will save you on eye drops and aspirin!

Ahh, genealogy. Reading old documents is a sure fire way to find your past, one skew at a time.

©2011 AS Eldredge

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