Learn to read historic handwriting

Provides you with hundreds of exercises drawn from original manuscripts

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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), 1563

This document is a copy of a cursive letter from 1563, produced by the municipal chancery of Greifswald (Pomerania) and owned by the University Archive of Greifswald.

New Testament in Greek, 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 Greek script is minuscule. For further information, see: https://humarec.org

Easy Learning - "L'Étranger", Sütterlin, French

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "L'Étranger (The Stranger)" in Sütterlin script. "L'Étranger" is a 1942 novel by French author Albert Camus. Its theme and outlook are often cited as examples of Camus' philosophy of the absurd and existentialism, though Camus personally rejected the latter label.

Children’s book Pyhäjärvi parish, 1840-1871

The scope of Children’s books: Lists of every child and their families in the parish (parish members age under 15 years). Children´s books contain information from households of villages. The records contain the names of the parents, the mother´s birth year and the child´s name and birth date. The books have also some special remark columns, where the priest would sometimes note even very private information about parishioners. Children‘s book Pyhäjärvi parish 1840-1871 online: http://digi.narc.fi/digi/slistaus.ka?ay=124586 A location of Pyhäjärvi lake in Karelia: http://www.federley.com/pyhajarvi/pyhajarvi_index.html A map of Pyhäjärvi region in Karelia: https://www.luovutettukarjala.fi/pitajat/pyhajarvi/pyhajarvenkart.htm

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 - "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.