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.
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. His signature came from his marriage license in 1910.
My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham. Jennie’s daughter, 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.
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 Countty, 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. His full signature came from a Purchaser’s recipt in 1957 for a building Central Congregational Church wanted to buy.
Doris Graham Cleage, Fannie’s daughter, 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 younger sister Pearl Michell Cleage is Jennie’s great granddaughter. She attended Roosevelt Elementary School , McMichael Junior High School and Northwestern High School in Detroit. She also Howard and Spellman Universities. Her signature came from the return address on a letter in 1991.
My own signature. Another great granddaughter of Jennie, I was raised in Detroit and attended Brady and Roosevelt Elementary Schools, Durfee and McMichael Junior High Schools, Northwestern High School and Wayne State University, all in Detroit. The bottom signature came from my third daughter’s birth certificate in 1976. The top one came from a deed for the sale of the house on Oregon where I was a witness in 1968.
26 thoughts on “Generations of Family Signatures”
Such a thread of similar styles passing all the way down the generations. Quite fascinating.
It turned out to be very interesting.
How I agree with Alan – a fascinating choice of topic.
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.
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.
I’ve lost a lot of letters over the years too. If only we could get a rewind!
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!
I was just thinking that I should add where I found each signature.
when do you begin to sign things? and will signatures be replaced by passwords or scans of some kind? this post makes me wonder?
Good question. I wonder what sort of signatures the grandchildren have.
This is such a neat way to put this together! I wanted to let you know that I’ve highlighted your post in this week’s “What We Are Reading,” a new weekly column on the Ancestry.com blog. http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/07/11/what-we-are-reading-july-11-edition/
Have a great weekend!
Thanks Amy! Appreciate it.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for visiting. Since I did this one, I’m thinking of all the other signatures I can find for collateral family members.
What a GREAT presentation!! The combination of the signature with the photo gives the signature a life.
Thank you Walt! I thought so too.
This is such a great post! I don’t think I’d be able to duplicate it with my family’s signatures.
It really helped that the family saved various documents and I had them in my possession.
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.
I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/07/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-july-18-2014.html
Have a wonderful weekend!
Thank you Jana. I visited the post and some of the other blogs listed and found them very interesting.
I love this idea. May I use your idea in an upcoming blog post?
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.
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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