October 20, 2017

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge #29 – Handwriting

An open notebook with an uncapped pen

Handwriting Traits In Your Ancestor’s Penmanship

After eighteen months of training, I became a Certified Handwriting Analyst through the International Graphoanalysis Society in 1987.  I had always been fascinated by the quirks I could see in other people’s handwriting, and as always, I wanted to know what it all meant.  Loops, curls, dots and cross bars.  Why did my handwriting look different than everyone else’s.

It was my mother’s penmanship I was exposed to early on and in great quantity. She signed the report cards, wrote letters to everyone in the family, and always in a beautiful script probably drilled into her in her formative years in grade school and high school.  I believe her form of handwriting might have been called the Palmer method which was developed as a uniform way of writing for business.  

The thing to remember about handwriting is that it is actually brain writing.   Your hand doesn’t do the thinking of course, it’s your mind that controls the way your hand (or any cursive writing method) transfers the information to the paper.

Crossing those T’s and dotting those I’s

Look at how you cross your T’s (lower case or capitals) to see where you put the crossbar.  Is it low, in the middle, high on the stem of the letter, or way above the stem, just kind of ‘floating’ up there?  To a graphoanalyst,  all of those locations mean something: goals.  As you can imagine, the low crossbar denotes low goals; in the middle denotes reasonable ones, high shows the person sets high goals. The one’s floating above…perhaps those are very high and not so reasonable or attainable.

You may not usually pay much attention to how you dot your lower case i, or j, but there are several traits we look for.  A “tick” or almost a check mark look could mean that the person could be quick to anger. The harder the person writes on the paper shows the depth and length of time the person might hold that anger. It could be a small irritation they will get over quickly, or along with several other traits we evaluate, it could mean you need to watch out for someone who could fly off the handle. Do you make a little circle above your dotted letters?  That could mean you have an idiosyncrasy of some sort. Big circles = big idiosyncrasies, with the converse being the opposite trait.  

Writing that looks flowing and with lots of extra loops and curls could mean the person had grown up in an era when life was more flowery (like the Victorian era) and “gilded” where it was all part of the person‘s personae to show good breeding with even their handwriting.

What We Don’t Know or Can’t Tell

The really intriguing thing about handwriting is what you can’t determine from just looking at it. You cannot determine the writer’s gender.  You may be able to tell what their health is like if it’s somewhat ‘squiggly’ if the writers handwriting was once more firm and controlled.  Additionally, you are not able to determine someone’s  age by looking at their writing. Of course, there’s exceptions to that rule, for instance if what you see is just scribbling it could be a very small child, but at the same time it could also be someone who has limited mental capacity.

One of the most scary handwriting is by persons who are serial murderers or other individuals who have committed violent crimes.  Their writing looks very “muddy”, and possibly very heavy or dark, depending on their writing instrument. Many times, an analyst will ask that an exemplar be done using a pencil or a ballpoint pen to get the most clear writing to examine.  Using other types of writing tools like roller ball or felt pen will not give a clear stroke to analyze.

Every single stroke of the pen tells the analyst a story they can picture in their mind and use to compose a personality report for business or even marital compatibility.  

Carol is not currently taking new clients at this time.  
© Carol Yates Wilkerson, 2010. Use of this article is not permitted without permission from the author.

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