International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Research A-Z ~ X Mark

For the month of April, we have highlighted some of the 225+ genealogy and research courses offered at The International Institute for Genealogical Studies. There are a variety of themes and topics to choose from. Hopefully, we will feature some courses that you were not aware of and pique your interest to explore further.

Genealogy Research from A to Z

X is for X Mark

As researchers, we are looking for the names that are found on documents. These are often written by others. When they are not, we may be fortunate enough to find an ancestor’s original signature. This is especially true for Town Clerks or an ancestor who was the Justice of the Peace. However, not everyone could sign their own name; some used an X with “his X mark” or “her X mark” to sign formal documents. There are always exceptions to this rule. In the examples below, notice the X could be on its side, or the X may be replaced by initials or another symbol. 

X marks the spot! Ancestors who were unable to read or write used an X as an alternative to their signature

Locating and collecting ancestor signatures can not only be fun, but also valuable. Signatures can be compared to confirm the identity of two individuals with the same name. Names are found written on many documents, but they may not always be original signatures, so be careful to identify who has written the names. Signatures should be written in different ink and be noticeably different than the handwriting on the rest of the document.

Signatures can be found on land records, wills, probate records, military records, and even informants on death records. Marriage records could have original signatures, but check carefully as many are copied over several times in various registers and copy books. The following courses may give you a few ideas on where to find original signatures.

X Mark Courses 

Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program-Part 3  
Australian: Other Sources for Births, Deaths & Marriages 
Canadian: Land Records-Part 1 
Canadian: Land Records-Part 2 
Canadian: Wills and Estate Records-Part 1

Canadian: Wills and Estate Records-Part 2
English: Land and Property Records Including Manorial Documents and Maps 
English: Probate Records
Google for the Wise Genealogist 
Irish: Estate, Plantation and Settlement Records 
Irish: Testamentary Source Records
Life of Our Ancestors 
Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents 
Research: FamilySearch Resources – In Person and Online 
Research: Social History 
Research: The National Archives of England
Research: U.S. Colonial New England Ancestors  
Research: United Empire Loyalist Ancestors 
Scottish: Wills and Testaments 
Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting 
US: Land Records 
US: Probate Records 

You can customize your own package of courses. This is especially helpful if you have already completed some of the courses above. Register for the balance of the courses needed to complete your desired genealogy theme.

Ancestors without the ability to write often used an X instead of a signature

Research A-Z 

Watch for that X on documents. Even the way they wrote it can be unique, and in a different ink. They are clues to whether they could read and write. However, just because you find a signature, does not guarantee they could write. They may have learned to sign their name, but they are illiterate. 

The International Institute of Genealogical Studies offers quality online education with over 240 courses. Our wide range of courses cover specific countries, enhance methodology research, build skills to maximize your research time, and all count toward the certification you choose. 

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