Most genealogists have to become somewhat expert at reading old handwritings. There are many resources out there to help you learn how to read old scripts and I have talked about those before. Today I wanted to talk about looking at the handwriting from a different angle, graphology.
Graphology is the science of analyzing handwriting to uncover personality traits. I am sure you are familiar with this from crime shows and the evening news but did you know that genealogists can learn how to do this too? Would you like to know if your ancestor was an introvert, a liar, generous, or psychotic? It isn't as far fetched as you might think. Most courts recognize the legitimacy of what a handwriting expert can tell you. Another aspect of learning to analyze handwriting from this point of view is learning to recognize forgeries. This is very important when dealing with the handwriting and signatures of famous people. If you found a document that had George Washington's signature would you be able to analyze it properly to determine if it is authentic?
Handwriting analysis from this angle totally fascinates me. If you would like to learn a little more I have listed some good reference materials below:
Brainprints. Andrea McNichols' materials are my favorite. She makes the information easy to understand and she has a bit of a sense of humor to go along with it. She has several resources. I would definitely start with her basic book, Handwriting Analysis : Putting It to Work for You. After you read that book, then you can delve into some of Andrea's other stuff.
Sex, Lies, and Handwriting: A Top Expert Reveals the Secrets Hidden in Your Handwriting is another really good book. It too throws in a little humor making it a fun read.
Handwriting Analysis: The Complete Basic Book. I own this book too and I highly recommend it.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis. I own this book too (first edition). It isn't my favorite one but I mention it because of who the author is. Sheila Lowe has a computer program for analyzing handwriting. You input all of the data and it will spit out an analysis. Many businesses use this to screen employees. I have never used the program but Sheila's website has an online version you can play with. This online analysis looks at 50 aspects of the handwriting. It isn't as extensive as the actual computer program but it will give you an idea. The computer program isn't as good as a human and it is only as good as the data you plug in. Because the graphics on the online version are so small, you really do need to know the basics of the terminology used to be able to use this. You can take a look at Sheila Lowe and Associates. I am a bit skeptical about this but you might be interested. Sheila follows more of the "gestalt" philosophy of graphology. I tend to lean more toward the "trait-stroke" philosophy (what you will find in Andrea McNichol's book).
In your reading you will come across these two philosophies of handwriting analysis, gestalt and trait-stroke. I am throwing these terms out there so you will be watching for them. You need to be familiar with BOTH to be able to analyze handwriting fully.
Being able to "read" handwriting has other advantages. When your daughter brings home a boy for you to meet all you have to do is get a handwriting sample from him and you will know whether or not you need to be looking for the shotgun.
Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis