Learn to read historic handwriting

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Example transcriptions are provided by scholars and experts in the field of palaeography. Explore the fascinating world of ancient writing.


As a teacher or palaeographer you can add your own manuscripts and make them available to your students, or interest group.


Newest Documents

Council protocol of Bozen (Hs. 115), 1792

This document is written in an eighteenth-century German kurrent script. Foreign words are given in Roman letters. There are a lot of abbreviations in the text. The text is also highly standardised.

Death Registers - Joseph Rottmayr, 1847-1878

This document provides excerpts from parish registers in the Passau Diocese (19th century), which were recorded by priest Joseph Rottmayr from 1830 to 1863. Joseph Rottmayr served as priest in the parishes Kapfham (1830-1831), Burghausen (1834-1840), Mehring (1840-1841), Haiming (1841-1863). The original documents are held by the Passau Diocesan Archives and can be fully viewed on http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/deutschland/passau/

Protocol of the Kaiserliche Akadamie, 04.03.1848

Protocol of a meeting of the Gesamtakademie der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften [in Vienna] on 4/3/1848. The actuary Adolf Schmidl must have been responsible for the contents of the protocol. The writer was the chancellor Vincenz Lippka. The original is located in the archives of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. It is written in cursive letters with occasional words (namely proper names) in Latin script as an award font.

Easy Learning - "Mémoire", Greifswald, French

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "Mémoire" in Greifswald script. "Mémoire" is a poem by Arthur Rimbaud.

Documents For Beginners

Letters to the Government of Bengal, 1790

Copies of letters sent to the Government of Bengal by botanists, including Robert Kyd and Dr William Roxburgh, reporting on the cultivation of Mawah and Teak trees, the discovery of a new species of Indigo (Nerium tinctorium), and attempts to propagate the Cochineal insect in the Calcutta Nopalry garden. The letters are written in a large, consistent italic cursive. The writer often embellishes capital letters with flourishes, and uses ampersands (&). Contracted words are often indicated with superscript final letters.

Easy Learning - "The Secret Adversary", Cöntgen Kanzley, English

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "The Secret Adversary" in Cöntgen Kanzley script. "The Secret Adversary" is the second published detective fiction novel by British writer Agatha Christie, first published in January 1922 in the United Kingdom.

Easy Learning - "Pride and Prejudice", 18th Century Kurrent, English

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "Pride and Prejudice" in 18th Century Kurrent script. Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story charts the emotional development of the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, who learns the error of making hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential.

Jeremy Bentham (easier handwriting), 1822

These documents consist of personal papers written by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and his secretaries. Original copies of these documents are held at University College London. This is a sample of easier handwriting which is suitable for beginners. Volunteers working on the Transcribe Bentham crowdsourcing initiative (http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/transcribe-bentham/) may like to use these documents to practice deciphering Bentham’s handwriting.