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

Easy Learning - "The Three Strangers", Cöntgen Kanzley, English

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "The Three Strangers" in Cöntgen Kanzley script. "The Three Strangers" is a short story by Thomas Hardy from 1883. The story is a pastoral history told by an omniscient narrator more than 50 years after the event.

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 - "Die Bürgschaft", Wiegel script, German

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "Die Bürgschaft" in Wiegel script. "Die Bürgschaft" is a ballad by Friedrich Schiller. It was written in the summer of 1798 and was first published in the Musenalmanach in 1799. It is one of Schiller's best-known poems.

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.

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.