An important aspect of family history research is being able to accurately read and transcribe old documents. Deciphering old handwriting can become very frustrating and time consuming. However, it is a necessary skill for family historians and, fortunately, a skill which we can develop with practice.
For those not confident in reading and interpreting old handwriting, the following resources may be useful:
Produced by the National Archives (UK) in conjunction with the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (London), Palaeography assists in learning to read the handwriting found in documents written between 1500 and 1800. The interactive tutorial comprises of ten documents presented in order of difficulty and, by systematically working through the tutorial, you can develop a better understanding of old handwriting. In addition to this, the 'Further Practice' section offers a range of documents to help build proficiency in reading old documents. With new documents being added periodically, you will be able to build on and reinforce the skills you have acquired.
If your research takes you to Scotland, scottishhandwriting.com is a great resource for assisting you to develop skills in deciphering documents which were written in Scotland between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
This website was developed by The National Records of Scotland (NRS) and offers tutorials which cater for the novice through to the more experienced palaeographer. In addition to this, the site offers a weekly 'poser' questions to help you refresh your skills. Michael J. Leclerc gives a good review of Scottish Handwriting here.
There are numerous other resources on the internet which will help in making reading old documents easier, however, these are two that I have found very helpful in my research - I hope you do too!