8 Replies Latest reply on Jan 23, 2019 2:17 PM by Beth Graham

    To Z or not to Z ...

    Beth Graham Adventurer

      ... that is the question. Can you help me discern between lowercase Z and lowercase S in handwritten text? My problem today is the word "recognize," which looks in the original most of the time to be spelled with an S, but which has been almost uniformly transcribed as spelled with a Z. (Per my good friend Merriam-Webster, "recognise" is a chiefly British variant; I know, though, that that spelling is used sometimes in 19th-century documents.)

       

      Here's a page from the bill I've been reviewing: https://crowd.loc.gov/campaigns/letters-to-lincoln/1863-civil-war-emancipation-proclamation-and-gettysburg-address/mal2088900/mal2088900-7/

       

      Compare handwriting of the word (hyphenated) toward the top of the page with handwriting of the word in section 6 and help a woman out, won't you?

       

      Many thanks (and if you have good sources for getting better at reading 19th-century handwriting, I'd welcome those, too) --

      Beth

        • Re: To Z or not to Z ...
          Victoria Van Hyning Scout

          Hi again Beth,

           

          Good question. These are definitely s's! So, not to z. As always, best not to regularize or modernize older texts. As someone who spent many years in the UK, I can also attest to the utter confusion of code-switching or going back and forth between the s and z forms, never mind the various other little differences in spelling, punctuation and sentence construction! But in this period, as you say, the usage is far closer to modern British spellings than modern American English. Interesting stuff!

           

          -Victoria

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            • Re: To Z or not to Z ...
              Beth Graham Adventurer

              Thanks for the quick feedback. Could someone please reopen the first six pages of this bill series so that I can fix spellings? If there's nothing doing over at the Smithsonian today, I'll carry on with the remaining pages of this bill with your information in mind.

               

              I was almost positive that I was seeing s's, but didn't want to presume, just in case there was a weird z handwriting style I hadn't yet encountered.

               

              Beth

              • Re: To Z or not to Z ...
                Julianne Mangin Adventurer

                Beth, I fixed the issue in the one page that you linked to.  I, or someone else, can look at the other pages in the document later.

                 

                I did fix one other thing.  In one place, the word "Representatives" was spelled "Pepresentatives."  You transcribed it as written.  I changed it to the correct spelling.  I did this because I am relying on the instruction in the "How to transcribe document" where it says:

                 

                "Preserve original spelling unless the author seems to have made a minor error, such as writing 'teh' instead of 'the'."

                 

                You are doing very well with your transcriptions.  I hope you will stick with it.

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              • Re: To Z or not to Z ...
                Henry Rosenberg Tracker

                I agree that they are "s's". We have been advised to write what is written even if the spelling is no longer used and even if the word is misspelled.

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                  • Re: To Z or not to Z ...
                    Beth Graham Adventurer

                    Many thanks, Henry. Again, I was almost sure they were s's, but because there were so many instances of them being transcribed as z's through the 10+-page bill, wanted to ensure that I wasn't missing a "finer point" in reading 19th-century handwriting.

                     

                    Off to review more!

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                  • Re: To Z or not to Z ...
                    Julianne Mangin Adventurer

                    I'll review it and make the changes.