1 Reply Latest reply on Apr 9, 2019 4:41 PM by Lauren Algee

    Tip for figuring out scrawled signatures

    suzanne piecuch Adventurer

      I'd be curious to hear others' methods for figuring out challenging bits of transcription...

       

      To that end, I'll share one of mine: Sleuthing illegible signatures

       

      I give this as an example:

      https://crowd.loc.gov/campaigns/letters-to-lincoln/1863-civil-war-emancipation-proclamation-and-gettysburg-address/mal2203400/mal2203400-1/

       

      Latham, Low, Sargent and Phelps had been transcribed. The one I'm pretty sure is McDougall was left as an unknown.

       

      I find that searching people as a group, along with the date, often brings some sort of result. Not always, but this was one of the easy ones.

       

      Searching the full names of Latham, Low, Sargent and Phelps brought me to this:

      https://books.google.com/books?id=-3sSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA81&lpg=PA81&dq=Milton+S.+Latham,++F+F+Low,+A+A+Sargent,+T+G+Phelps+1…

       

      Flipping to the second page of the letter in our transcription gave this info, handwritten marginally:

      [*U.S. Congress California Members*]

      According to the previous link, McDougall represented San Francisco. So far it's a match.

       

      Then I googled McDougall images, which is what I do to try to find signatures. Came up with this, which is a pretty good match, despite the fact that "our" letter looks like it was signed on someone's back:

      https://picryl.com/media/james-a-mcdougall-and-james-h-campbell-to-abraham-lincoln-tuesday-july-15-1862

       

       

      It's a lot easier to pick up on something like this if you're reviewing.

      And it's probably a lot more easy if you know a history scholar familiar with the sigs.

      In the meantime, we find fun where we can, when we can.

       

      Peace out!

      Suzanne.

        • Re: Tip for figuring out scrawled signatures
          Lauren Algee Adventurer

          Great advice!  We still get questions about whether or not outside research is "cheating"!  Certainly not!

           

          If you are stumped about a word such as the name of a place or person's name, a good first stop is the original document on the Library of Congress website (which you can visit by clicking the "view original on www.loc.gov" button in the transcription interface). You can also consult the in-depth Library resources linked on each campaign page. And of course additional information or historical context can be found through general web search!