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

Charter of Königsfelden Abbey, 1318

Charter minuscule of the 14th century. Tipical for the south of the German Empire. Abbreviations are transcribed using according Unicode characters as well as "'" (apostrophe) for "er"-abbreviations.

Easy Learning - "Mending Wall", Greifswald, English

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "Mending Wall" in Greifswald script. "Mending Wall" is a poem by the twentieth century American poet Robert Frost (1874–1963). It opens Frost's second collection of poetry.

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

Protocol of the Kaiserliche Akadamie, 26.01.1848

Protocol of a meeting of the Gesamtakademie der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften [in Vienna] on 26/1/1848. 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.

Documents For Beginners

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.

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.

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.