That is part of the reason why children quickly adapt the writing of the copybook to their own individual styles. Very few persons ever continue to write in the copybook style. To do so reflects a strong effort to conform to the wishes of others and a failure to mature intellectually and socially.

Albert S. Osborn is a recognized expert in the field of handwriting identification. His book, “Questioned Documents,” has been the most valuable reference for handwriting experts who deal with forged or questioned writing for nearly fifty years and it is still considered a classic work today. Osborn maintains that no two persons write an identical script. It is this unique feature which allows handwriting to be virtually as useful as fingerprints in identifying the writer.


Osborn points out that neither is there a lack of variation within the writing of a single person, however. Whether the writing is of the same or different persons is determined by “the cumulative effect of a sufficient number of mutually confirming qualities or characteristics.”


To conclude that writings were executed by the same person, one must determine that there are not only sufficient similarities, but that there is a distinct lack of “differences that cannot logically be accounted for except on the theory that the two sets of writings are by different writers.” With this in mind, we may now turn to the unique case of Karen Kingston.



The various pages of handwriting and drawings under study were verified by the witnesses to have been executed by the hand of Karen Kingston, a retarded thirteen-year-old girl, in April, 1974. The study was performed through many hours of detailed analysis and synthesis and involved consultations with other professionals. These include Mr. Paul N. Mitchell, certified Graphoanalyst and President of the Northern California chapter of the International Graphoanalysis Society, and Dr. Donald M. Uhlin, Professor of Art Therapy at California State University, Sacramento.


A specialist in art therapy for twenty-five years, Dr. Uhlin has written several important books on the psychological aspects of art and is considered an expert in evaluating children’s intelligence from their drawings. (Consult, for example, her Art for Exceptional Children. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers, 1972.) Several questions were posed as most pertinent to the situation. The answers lay in the handwritings and drawings of Karen Kingston.


Is there evidence of emotional balance and appropriate maturation or imbalance and immaturity? Does an analysis of the several specimens allow the conclusion that there is a single personality? Does the projective evidence indicate a plurality of personalities beyond any reasonable doubt?


The size, speed, and slant of handwriting are features that are held fairly constant in one individual under normal circumstances. The size of the writings may vary from one to another by as much as a factor of two. The speed may vary considerably from one writing to another as evidenced by the variations in fluency of line, hesitations, margins, and spacing. The slant of a writing generally provides a stable measure from one period of writing to another for a specific person.


Variations that depart from a consistent personal pattern provide immediate evidence suggesting at least an altered mood. Different or varying slants are common features of many persons and are rarely accompanied by changes in other features that are adequately distinct and in sufficient numbers to suggest a different personality. The immature personality often writes with a slant that varies from one part of the page to another-frequently starting with a vertical script and gradually inclining more to the right as the writer becomes more relaxed and expressive. Reassertion of voluntary control will be in evidence when the vertical writing is re-imposed.