Presented by Dina Carson
One of the biggest challenges for researchers and indexers alike is reading handwriting in old documents. If you have ever struggled with the content of a letter, a will, a land transaction or a court record, learning about the history of penmanship, and the Spencerian Writing style will help you transcribe the documents you need to show your family's history. Platt Rogers Spencer developed the Spencerian script in the 1840s to help foster better business communications. He died in 1864 but his sons published his text, Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship which helped to make Spencerian script a standard across schools in the United States and abroad for the next 75 years. Spencer's script is full of flourishes, but with a little practice you will be able to decipher the easy-to-mistake letter forms which will make doing research on 19th and early 20th century documents much easier.
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