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Handwriting Helps: The Eszett, Windows Character Map, and Legacy's Character Ribbon

Can you interpret this name?

1

Neither could I. Until I remembered something that Jim Beidler taught in Wednesday's webinar, German Names and Naming Patterns. And while this was from a Swedish record, the principle of the handwriting applies.

In the Question/Answer session (timestamp 1:20:21) a viewer asked Jim to explain the "double-S". He taught that this letter, known as an eszett, is easily confused with a capital B, and is no longer used in modern German handwriting. Here's what it looks like typed: 

ß

Can you pick out the eszett in the image above? Knowing that this character represents back-to-back s's (is that even how to write the plural of s?) makes the surname easier to interpret. And with a little familial context, it is most certainly:

Andersson

Any guesses on the given name? Try real hard not to look at the answer in the next line.

Per

I never would have figured out the given name if it stood alone like this, but with the surrounding information in the record and what I had already learned about the family, it was easier to decipher that this was indeed Per Andersson, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, born in 1709 in Sweden.

Character Map

With my newly-found interest in researching my Swedish ancestors (thanks to another recent webinar) I've been wearing out the Windows 10 Character Map to type letters not found in my English alphabet. To find this tool, press the Windows button + Q, which brings up the Search dialog. Then type Character Map and click on its result. This is what it looks like:

Charactermap 

Click on the letter you want to use, and look for the "Keystroke" in the lower right corner.

Charactermap2

Zooming in a bit, we can see that to type this character, you'd need to press the ALT key, and then type the numbers 0223.

Keystroke

Here's the result:

ß

So, I've been memorizing the keystrokes for ä, å, and ö, the letters I use most commonly when doing data entry for my Swedish ancestors.

ALT+0228 = ä

ALT+0229 = å

ALT+0246 = ö

Legacy's Character Ribbon

Legacy has a built-in tool that makes it 100 times easier than using Windows' Character Map. Basically, any place you can type, Legacy's Character Ribbon will be available. By default, 6 common characters are shown. Just click once on the desired character, and it will be typed wherever your cursor is. 

Charactermap3

 

To use or add other characters to the ribbon, click on the blue box, double-click on the desired character, and click the Return Characters button. There's room on the ribbon for your favorite 8.

If you want to see this in action, check out the after-webinar party in this webinar (timestamp 1:34:36).

Lesson learned

Never miss Webinar Wednesday. Although the topic may not appear to be relevant to your immediate research, what you learn can often be applied to what you are working on. So thanks to the viewer in Wednesday's webinar for asking the question, and thanks to Jim Beidler for a terrific explanation!

Comments

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I haven't jumped the pond yet but I attend every webinar because I always learn something. (I wouldn't have guessed Per for the given name without other help) So far I haven't had a need for the character ribbon in Legacy but thanks to you I understand where it is and how to use it.

HI.

Great tip!

In addition in case someone would find useful as well:

A good tool to decifer old scandinavian text with gotic style handwriting you can find on this site. An alphabet will come up, and just click on a letter and you see many examples of the handwitten letter.

http://www.hist.uib.no/gotisk/Gotiskalfa.htm

Having done my Swedish people, I did recognize Per Andersson. What I did for the International letters was create a word document with those letters and the symbols I use. Then I cut and paste what I need. It's a little cumbersome but saves having to memorize the keystrokes.

Not correct: the Esszet (ß) is indeed still used in modern German. It is even useful, as it indicates whether a preceding vowel is long or short.

Example: Masse (short a, = engl. mass or weight)
Maße (long aa, = engl. measurements)

If ß is not available, then a double ss is an acceptable substitute (or use the Alt+0223 combination)

In Switzerland, ss is always used, not ß. Maybe this is a result of old Swiss typewriters haviing to cope with German and French symbols and therefore compromising on the number of keys: the capital umlauts (Ä Ö Ü) also got dumped for their their simpler replacements Ae Oe and Ue. Even now, Swiss computer keyboards rely on CapsLock for the capital umlauts rather than having dedicated keys. The same applies to French capitalised accented letters

As a calligrapher who loves old writing styles I have always loved the esszet or Schaffes S (German name for it). It is made by the long s (the one people often think is an f) and short s joined in what is called a ligature (the ampersand is also a ligature - of e and t). And I have long bee na fan of the Legacy character ribbon. Love that Legacy accommodates non-English characters so easily

I knew how to use the charaters that were shown in Legacy, but not how to add more, Thanks. But I could not get the characters to come up with the Windows 10 keystrokes, such as Alt+0223. I have to select, then copy and paste them. Anyone else have that problem?

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