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.

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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

Cursive letter (Renaissance), 1568

Letter in German cursive, produced by the town chancery of Barth (Pomerania) in 1568. (University Archives Greifswald)

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 - "The Poor Ghost", Sütterlin, English

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "The Poor Ghost" in Sütterlin script. "The Poor Ghost" is a poem written by Christina Rossetti.

Easy Learning - "Faust", Sütterlin, German

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "Faust" in Sütterlin script. "Faust. Eine Tragödie" is the first part of Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and is considered by many as the greatest work of German literature. It was first published in 1808.

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.