Learn to read historic handwriting

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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

Easy Learning - "Krambambuli", Cöntgen Kanzley, German

This is an "Easy Learning" document. It is a computer transcription of "Krambambuli" in Cöntgen Kanzley script. "Krambambuli" is a story by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach first published in her cycle Dorf- und Schlossgeschichten (1883).

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.

Report on the Nopalry Gardens at Madras (Chennai), 1789

This is a Letter from Dr James Anderson to the Governor in Council, Madras, presenting his plan to propagate the Cochineal insect at the East India Company Nopalry Garden, plus a letter of instruction from Anderson to Dr Andrew Berry, nominating him to run the Nopalry. The letters contain details of the budget for the Garden, and instructions for digging and planting. The letters are written in a small, consistent rounded italic cursive, and the author uses heavy strokes on descending lines.

University protocol, 1798

This document is a fair copy of a collection of minutes of the formal meetings of the head office of the University of Greifswald in 1797-1798. The original document is held by the Archives of the University of Greifswald. The fair copy is written in cursive letters.

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.

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.