See The Signs

By The History Detectives Team
17 August 2009
Category: DIY Investigations

This week History Detectives investigated some old letters and their connection to Liberia, Africa. The investigation called on Tukufu Zuberi to examine the letters to determine if a contributor’s ancestor had made it to Liberia from late 19th century America.

If you have a document that needs examination, where can you start?

In most cases you will need to examine a document from three different aspects: historical, scientific and stylistic. However, your approach may change depending on whether you are examining the document for personal or historical reasons, the condition of the document and the conclusions you are hoping to reach.

When analyzing a document historically try and look for clues that can give you a hint about the era. For example, if it is a printed document, such as a greeting card, the printing technique used, address and even the stamp can give you a clue as to its age. If the techniques or materials used do not correspond with the alleged age of your document it is probably a forgery.

A qualitative analysis determines what materials are in the paper, a quantative analysis tells you how much, a chemical analysis measures composition and a physical analysis measures the strength, gloss and colour. You can also use an organic analysis to look for carbon based elements such as plant life or animals and an inorganic analysis can look for mineral elements in ink.

However, although you can ascertain a lot from examining a document, it may not solve your puzzle. For example, there are five copies of the Gettysburg Address, and although testing has confirmed they are genuine Lincoln documents, no-one knows which one President Lincoln actually read from.

Have you got a document that you’ve examined? What did you discover? Do you have any tips? We would like to know. Let us know in the form below.

Have you got a document that you’ve examined? What did you discover? Do you have any tips? We would like to know. Let us know in the form below.

You can also join our Facebook group where you can meet other fans and share information.


Comments

This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus