Mastering Spanish Handwriting and Documents: 1520-1820 by Ryskamp, Ryskamp & Soria: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

Mastering Spanish Handwriting and Documents: 1520-1820 by George R. Ryskamp, Peggy Ryskamp and H. Leandro Soria is a new 2023 publication from Genealogical Publishing Company.

There is a very lengthy and detailed 3-page Table of Contents in addition to a seven page index plus 300 pages of details packed in between.

Researching historical documents written in another language is a challenge in itself. Reading the handwriting styles from centuries past might present even more of a challenge.

How do researchers get around those two obstacles? As a genea-friend used to tell me – by education and practice. This is a unique book, which provides a thorough introduction to understanding and deciphering Spanish records that will tell the story of an ancestor’s life.

It’s also important to remember that Spanish is a language spoken not only in Spain, but in most of the countries in Central and South America and a few other places.

Official government records in all of those countries were created in the style of the mother country – Spain – so there is a continuity in types of documents to be found.

The authors have done an excellent job explaining the records and derivative forms to be found, the handwriting challenges in them and the knowledge a reader needs to gain to be able to decipher them.

This is done through the use of literally hundreds of examples of records. Almost every page has a record example and/or notes, in addition to the informational text.

There are so many tips, tricks, examples and Spanish language written idiosyncrasy illustrations that researchers who need to access Spanish language records will have acquired many new skills by reading this book.

I’d obviously recommend this book for those with Spanish ancestry in the family tree, but I’d also recommend it for those who would like to become more proficient in reading old handwriting in any language. Many foreign language alphabet letters are almost exactly the same as the English alphabet and there are only so many ways to write letters in cursive. Studying the examples in this book will help develop skills that can transfer to reading other foreign language records.

Mastering Spanish Handwriting and Documents: 1520-1820 by George R. Ryskamp, Peggy Ryskamp and H. Leandro Soria can be purchased online at for $60.00.



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