Many resources are available to help with reading old handwriting styles.
Handwriting since the 1800s
A Handwriting Help feature for English lettering in more modern times is available within the indexing program. The window can be opened using the Feather and Quill icon (located on the lower tool bar) or from the Handwriting Help item on the Help menu.
Clicking the Feather and Quill icon
opens the Handwriting Help window
The Double "S"
The double "S" or leading "S" can look different in writing names such as Ross, Sussana, Clarissa, Douglass, Chesster, Massachusetts and others. See examples below:
Subtle differences between double "S", long "S", and "F"
|Thomas Whissall; Wilson|
Double "S" - OR - Long "S" and Short "S"
"F" showing cross stroke above the letter
Another example of "F"
Do not get long "S" and "F" mixed up. The "F" has a cross stroke, even if the stroke is hardly noticeable; the context can make clear whether the letter is a long "S" or an "F". Writers would often use both long and short "S", sometimes even in the same word. Europeans frequently used the long and the short "S" in words where double "S" occurred. The practice even carried over to early American records.
Quick Guide to the letters "S" and "F" in various languages
The distinction between a lower case "S" and a lower case "F" is often difficult to see in handwritten documents. Below are examples of each in several alphabet samples.
Older and non-English handwriting resources
See the indexing Resource Guide for links to English handwriting helps from earlier centuries as well as to non-English resources.