Birth certificate fiasco shows reading cursive as lost skill

Birth certificate fiasco

Reading cursive is a forgotten skill

Writing (and teaching) cursive is become a thing of the past, similar to calligraphy, hieroglyphics and, apparently, myself. We print or, more likely, pound it out on a keyboard in abbreviations with no regard to correct spelling or even a period or comma. As a consequence, we are becoming unable to read documents written in cursive.

My 72-year-old birth certificate, the one with the promise on the back that it is a “record of value for future use,” to prove citizenship and acquire a passport, has proven to be useless and merely ornamental per the State of Washington. Recently I applied for a state-certified birth certificate, since one is required for an enhanced driver’s license and passport. When said certificate arrived, I was shocked to see they had used an “L” instead of a “T” as the first letter of my and my father’s last name. An Affidavit of Correction is required to fix it. I filed it through our own Health Department, but eventually had to call Olympia myself, twice. I was told, after they pulled up my original (hard-written in 1947 and stored on microfiche that “It’s definitely an ‘L’,” to which I responded, “Except that it’s not!” The response: “If someone in our office mistook your ‘T’ for an ‘L’, it’s not our fault.”

I am now awaiting a copy of my Everett High School transcript that, hopefully, will show my whole middle name and my last name starting with a “T.” Then a packet containing my Affidavit of Correction and copies of my “ornamental birth certificate,” my dad’s birth certificate, military and work records, etc., will be mailed to Olympia for consideration. One fine day, I hope, it will show up in my mailbox.

Two thoughts: Make that decision to let cursive go and invest the teaching time you gain in subjects that impact a child’s ability to live this life as an adult. And boomers, get your important documents in order now because our current workforce is becoming unable to translate anything written in longhand.

Linda Diane (Tucker) Wright


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