Your friends may laugh at you when you tell them you know how to read handwriting from the 1500s, but if you go through the online tutorials Vona Williams shared Wednesday at the Conference on Family History and Genealogy, your friends will have to wipe the smirks off their faces.

Williams is the manager of British reference at the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She teaches a class there on how to read "Secretary Hand," a handwriting that was common between 1485 and 1650.

To the modern eye, secretary hand looks like Egyptian or like a doctor's note to a pharmacist. But according to Williams, it only takes about six weeks to become an expert. "All it takes is practice," she said.

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