family sigsblog

Generations of Family Signatures

missvirginia
The first page from my great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner’s memory book. My mother’s, mother’s mother. The first generation born out of slavery and the first literate generation.  I believe that she and her siblings all attended schools founded by the Congregational Church in Montgomery, AL after the Civil War.
My great grandfather Howard Turner was born in 1862 in Lowndes County, AL. He was literate but I do not know what school he and his siblings attended.
My great grandfather Howard Turner was born in 1862 in Lowndes County, AL. He was literate but I do not know what school he and his siblings attended.  I do not have a photograph of him but I did find his signature on my great grandparents marriage license.
ransom_handwriting
My great grandmother’s brother, Ransom Allen.
marymccall_handwritting
My great grandmother’s oldest sister, Mary Allen McCall.
pearl_cleage_signature
My paternal grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage. I found her signature on some legal papers because all of the letters I have from her were signed “Mother”.  I know that she graduated from high school in Indianapolis, IN and received all of her education in Indianapolis but I do not know the names of the schools.  Her signature came from a Marion Indiana Probate record for her older brother’s will in 1946.
My paternal grandfather, Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr. He attended the Athens Academy in Athens TN, Knoxville College and the Indiana Medical School in Indianapolis, IN.
My paternal grandfather, Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr. He attended the Athens Academy in Athens TN, Knoxville College and the Indiana Medical School in Indianapolis, IN. His signature came from his marriage license in 1910.
fanny
My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham. She was educated in Montgomery, AL at State Normal which was a school from elementary to high school, started by the Congregational Church for Black students.  Her signature came from the 1910 Montgomery Census form via ancestry.com. She was an enumerator.
Mershell
My maternal grandfather Mershell C. Graham. My mother said he taught himself to read. The 1940 census said he finished 8th grade. From Coosada, Elmore Cty, Alabama. His signature came from his WW1 Draft registration card in 1917 via ancestry.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father Albert B. Cleage Jr. His nickname was Toddy and he often signed his letters home Toddy. He attended Wingert elementary, Northwestern High, Wayne State in Detroit and Oberlin University in Ohio.
My father Albert B. Cleage Jr. His nickname was Toddy and he often signed his letters home Toddy. He attended Wingert elementary, Northwestern High, Wayne State in Detroit and Oberlin University in Ohio.  His full signature came from a Purchaser’s recipt in 1957 for a building Central Congregational Church wanted to buy.

 

 

My mother was born in 1923 in Detroit, MI. She attended Thomas Elementary School, Barbour Intermediate, Eastern High and Wayne State University in Detroit.
My mother was born in 1923 in Detroit, MI. She attended Thomas Elementary School, Barbour Intermediate, Eastern High and Wayne State University in Detroit.  Her signature came from a State of Michigan Teacher Oath in 1964.  The “Doris” came from a letter home from Los Angeles in 1944.
My own signature. I was raised in Detroit and attended Brady and Roosevelt elementary, Durfee and McMichael Junior high and Northwestern High school and Wayne State University, all in Detroit
My own signature. I was raised in Detroit and attended Brady and Roosevelt elementary, Durfee and McMichael Junior high and Northwestern High school and Wayne State University, all in Detroit.   The bottom signature came from my 3rd daughter’s birth certificate in 1976.  The top one came from a deed for the sale of the house on Oregon.  I was a witness. 1968.

 

 

My younger sister Pearl Michell Cleage. She attended Roosevelt elementary, McMichael Junior High and Northwestern High in Detroit. Also Howard and Spellman Universities.
My younger sister Pearl Michell Cleage. She attended Roosevelt elementary, McMichael Junior High and Northwestern High in Detroit. Also Howard and Spellman Universities.  Her signature came from the return address on a letter in 1991.

 

When I started looking for signatures, I thought it would be easy because I have many letters through the generations.  The problem was that they did not sign letters with both first and last names.  Some repeatedly used nicknames.  I was able to find most signatures by searching through documents – marriage licenses, social security cards, deeds, bills of sale and group membership cards. I finally found my sister’s signature in the return address on an envelope and if I’d thought of it sooner, might have found others in the same place.

26 thoughts on “Generations of Family Signatures”

    1. It was one of the prompts in The Book Of Me that Julie Goucher is doing. I found it more and more interesting as I went along. One of the more interesting things was how hard it was to find a full signature. It is lucky I had copies of documents because nobody signs their letters to their near and dear with their full name.

  1. This is very good research much better than I what I could possibly come up with. I love that you still have so many of the original letters. Foolishly, I lost many family letters in youth from moving, and just not being very conscientious of there worth, at the time. A very handsome family! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kristin, this are true treasures you hold in your hands. I myself are always fascinated, when I found a handwritten stuff on an old document. Thanks for sharing!

  3. when do you begin to sign things? and will signatures be replaced by passwords or scans of some kind? this post makes me wonder?

    gem!

  4. I find signatures so touching, somehow—the way in which we develop a distinct style in our youth and then stick to it. I know when I was younger I tried out handwriting and a signature modeled on my father’s, then my mother’s, then my boyfriend’s handwriting. What I ended up with was a mix of them all a little something of my own to top it all off.

    And the struggle it takes to assert and uphold that identity! That is what I find so moving.

    1. As I was looking for my own signature, I noticed that I used to make my “g” in Cleage with a seperate, hook type bottom. Somewhere along the way I changed to a looped “g”. Don’t remember when or why.

  5. What a great idea to combine signatures with photographs. I collect ancestor signatures too but this is a novel way to display them. Thank you for your article.

    1. Thanks for visiting. Since I did this one, I’m thinking of all the other signatures I can find for collateral family members.

  6. Very nice job Kristin. Gives me ideas for another project I can do! Speaking of the future generations and their signatures- interesting question since they do not teach cursive writing any longer in our public schools. everything is printed or typed.

    1. Mary, of course you can! I get some of my best ideas for themes from topics others blog about. Using your own data makes it yours.

  7. What a fabulous idea! You have a real treasure here. You’ve inspired me to start looking for my ancestors’ signatures as well. Well done!

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