Understanding old handwriting

Posted July 1, 2013 2:34 pm by Hazel Stewart

Have you ever come across an old document and not been able to read it? Old handwriting can be problematic but there are a number of resources which can help you learn palaeographic skills. Palaeography, or the study of old handwriting, is discussed in a variety of publications. These include Hilary Marshall’s ‘Palaeography for family and local historians’ (2004), Grant G. Simpson’s ‘Scottish handwriting 1150-1650: an introduction to the reading of documents’ (2009) and ‘Scottish Handwriting 1500-1700: a self-help pack’ (1994).

There are two interactive handwriting resources available online. The first is the Scottish Handwriting website, which covers handwriting found in 16th-18th century Scottish documents. The second site is an online tutorial run by the National Archives at Kew. These resources also include useful information on dates, numbers, measurements and money that might be found in old documents.

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