Reprinted from an article in July 2008.
A good family historian is possessed of a curious nature. We want answers to many questions. What did our ancestors look like, sound like, how did they live? More than "just the facts" we want to know the whole story, as much as we can possibly gather.
Possessing that curiosity, I've begun collecting my ancestors' autographs or in some cases their mark. In writing my family history I have taken those signatures and placed them together on a page identifying the signer and their place in my family tree.
The signatures displayed here are of the John and Sarah Graham Campbell family. John and Sarah are my Great Great Grandparents. When you see the signature of my Great Grandfather Isaac Reed Campbell, try to reconcile this neat precise handwriting with the man I wrote about in The Tale Is Here To Tell
I have listed where I obtained the signature and the date the signature was made, as well as, the date of birth and death for the signer.
My family has enjoyed this addition, this small detail, this curiosity to our written family history. I hope you enjoy it.Select the photograph to view a larger version of the page from my family history.How Did You Do That?
The signatures were contained in probate documents that had been copied from microfilm. I scanned just the signature from each copy into Photoshop CS2 (what I did would be the same for Elements). I then opened levels (found under Image - Adjustment - Levels). I moved the input slider until I got the desired level of white. I then moved the input slider to darken the signature. (White level is on the right, dark is on the left.)
Any spots or marks I removed with the clone tool. I saved each signature as a JPEG file.
Note: I also kept each signature at the same width and height, making it easy to drop and center in the document. Then using Word for the Mac I created the document and dropped the signatures into place. Really very easy to do. Thanks for asking.