Delmarva Settlers

About the Images on

In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, official legal documents such as land patents, court proceedings, and probate inventories were recorded in handwritten format. The job of record-keeping represented a prestigious position in the community, since literacy was not common.

Modern-day eyes are quick to recognize the often-unusual writing and spelling in those early documents, as they are very different from contemporary written records.

Handwriting was frequently more elaborate and stylized than is common in our current age, and our seventeenth- and eighteenth-century counterparts did not have standardized dictionaries to guide them. As such, there was no fixed spelling for any word or formal name.


Contents : Info

About this project

< < About the images on this site

Citation Guidelines
Contact us
Copyright & Fair Use

Early record keepers were just as human as the modern individual, however. Few things capture this awareness as well as the "doodles" that these literate early settlers left in the margins of the official record books. The blank edges of pages were often filled with swirling flourishes, geometric patterns, and human and zoomorphic designs. has chosen several of these images from the early records of Somerset County in Maryland and Accomack and Northampton Counties in Virginia to use on this web site. Handwriting samples and signatures from these same sources also appear throughout the site.

Other images on this site were taken from the Nabb Center's books and archives and are cited where they appear. Many more can be found in the Nabb Center's collections and are available to members and visitors. For directions to the Nabb Center, please click the Contact Us button above.

About This Project  * Citation Guidelines  * Copyright & Fair Use * ©
This project is in support of the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture
Click here for information about this image