paleography primer

5 February 2003

english handwriting 1500-1700 looks to be an absolutely fascinating way to learn to decipher old documents and it looks and feels like an expertly designed course too. i love the increasing availability of free learning materials on the internet.

i managed lesson one - a 1630 piece of professional calligraphy: “verses vpon the duke of buckinghams returne from the ile of rees” pretty well and learnt a couple of new things along the way. i took a peek at lesson 28 - a “cursive, untidy, irregular secretary hand”: if they can teach me to comprehend that bit of spiders crawl that i have trouble finding any recognisable letters in yet alone words i will be very impressed. it’s “‘sir walter rawleigh his letter to the king at his return from guiana’, with ‘even such is time that takes in trust’“.

This resource has been designed for students and scholars of early modern English letters, history, theology, and philosophy—for anyone whose research will embrace original English manuscript sources in this period.

they don’t mention just the plain curious who think reading old documents is a cool skill to nurture but i’m sure they won’t mind me having a go. (a 1700-1900 version of the course would come in really handy with my family research though, maybe one day i’ll get far enough back that knowing 16th and 17th century handwriting will come in handy too.)