medal cast for Cecil Calvert, 1632 Maryland State Archives
Reference & Research
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401
MD toll free (800) 235-4045
or (410) 260-6400
fax: (410) 974-2525
Directions and Hours

Understanding Maryland Records
Letters and Writing

Every writer of records had his own style of handwriting and frequently it is necessary to study letters very carefully and find them in other words on the page in order to decipher a specific word or passage. The interpretation of unfamiliar handwritting becomes easier with practice. Some letters, however, were commonly written in a way quite unlike the way we write them in modern times.

was a small "e" in records up to the mid-1700s; small letter "o" was written as it is now, with no loop.
long s in script was a "long s." Note that it looped to the left after the downstroke and that "f" looped to the right. Words frequently contained both a regular "s" and a "long "s." f written in script
glass written in script
capital I
was a single letter, a capital "I," but it was also used for what we call a capital "J."
James  Ignatius in script
lower case i
The small letter "i," for reasons that are not clear, had both a vowel and a consonant form.
  "J" was the last letter added to our alphabet. "I" was the vowel only and "J" was the consonant. The capital "J" was written by simply dropping the second loop below the line, more in keeping with the small "j." James
capital I/J
was the capital I/J when printed by hand. It appears in records in the alphabetized index headings - A B C D E F G H  I  K L - and was often used as a mark on ship cargoes to identify the owner. It also appears on deeds and other documents. Sometimes men who did not know how to write their full names and had a name beginning with "I" or "J," learned to make one of its initials, either the first or the last, and used "I" as a mark.

Questions regarding Archives' collections and services should be directed to the Reference Services Department at:

Go to Reference Services homepage.

This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.

Tell Us What You Think About the Maryland State Archives Website!

[ Archives' Home Page  ||  All About Maryland  ||  Maryland Manual On-Line  ||  Reference & Research
||  Search the Archives   ||  Education & Outreach  ||  Archives of Maryland Online ]

Governor     General Assembly    Judiciary     Maryland.Gov

© Copyright May 31, 2012 Maryland State Archives