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Groundbreaking Book for Genealogists with Hispanic Roots

Groundbreaking Book for Genealogists with Hispanic Roots

English-speaking researchers and historians working with a Spanish-language document face two hurdles—understanding the handwriting and vocabulary, and grasping the record’s institutional, historic, social, and cultural context. 

This book’s unique and detailed content fills both needs. 

With images, charts, transcribed documents and in-depth commentary, Mastering Spanish Handwriting and Documents: 1520-1820 addresses fundamental handwriting concepts and challenges relevant to Spanish-language documents. Multiple examples familiarize readers with records written in both Humanistic hand (itálica) as well as the older, more difficult Secretary hand (cortesana or procesal), in the process giving users a deeper, more accurate, and more fulfilling research experience.

Beyond letter forms, the volume’s comprehensive textual discussions examine the format and procedures underlying ecclesiastical and legal record types—from a parish marriage record to the Spanish inheritance system—giving readers the context for a document’s vocabulary and format. Forty-two transcribed and translated Spanish-language documents form the book’s showpiece, adding depth and personality to the text. A “Notes and Comments” section at the end of each translation conveys document-specific commentary, ranging from a discussion of a priest’s handwriting idiosyncrasies, to weights and measures used in an inventory, to methodologies for determining the most likely correct translation for an obscure legal phrase.   

In a nutshell, the goal of Spanish Handwriting and Documents: 1520-1820 is to provide researchers with

  • a working familiarity with the handwriting in use at the time a document was drafted;
  • an acquaintance with the legal and customary formats regularly used in that time period;
  • and a knowledge of the procedures followed by institutions and individuals when drafting the documents.

Spanning three centuries of Spanish-language documents and with content applicable for researchers at all levels—including native speakers unfamiliar with early handwriting– Mastering Spanish Handwriting and Documents: 1520-1820 uniquely synthesizes the life and career of George R. Ryskamp (1950-2022), whose passion for and expertise in teaching Hispanic genealogical research lies behind every sentence.  No serious student of Hispanic genealogy can afford to be without it.

Handwriting Examples