Learn to read historic handwriting

Provides you with hundreds of exercises drawn from original manuscripts

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Practice and test yourself with just a mouse click or on your mobile phone – and get instant feedback on your ability to correctly read a manuscript.

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

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

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Newest Documents

Parliamentary diary of Walter Yonge, 1627

Extracts from a Parliamentary Diary written by Walter Yonge, of Colyton, County Devon (Member of Parliament for Honiton in the Long Parliament) for the years 1627-1642, British Library reference Add MS 35331. The diary is written by Yonge in a consistent Secretary Hand, typical for the mid-17th century.

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.

Easy Learning - "Erlkönig", Wiegel script, German

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of the "Erlkönig" in Wiegel script. "Erlkönig" is a ballad written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1782. It is one of his most famous works and was set to music by Franz Schubert and Carl Loewe, among others.

New Testament in Arabic, 12th/13th century

This is a manuscript of the New Testament. It was probably copied in Sicily during the 12th or the 13th century. The manuscript is located in the Marciana Library in Venice. The Arabic script is of nasḫī type. For further information, see: https://humarec.org

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 - "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.

Easy Learning - "Erlkönig", Wiegel script, English

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of the "Erlkönig" in Wiegel script. "Erlkönig" is a ballad written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1782. This version has been translated and written by Edgar Alfred Bowringin 1853.

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.