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Read Old Handwriting (Paleography)


This guide will help you find resources on paleography and improve your ability to read handwriting. Use the menu on the left to find suggested resources and avenues for practice.

We are grateful for The National Archives, UK and the Library of Congress whose paleography guides we draw on - conceptually and thematically - in the creation of this resource.

Why Paleography?

Paleography is the study of the forms and processes of handwriting, and is an invaluable skill required for transcribing and interpreting manuscripts. Depending on the language and historical period, there exist a wide range of different writing styles, such as the copper plate style, or secretary style. Besides the skill's critical nature, reading handwriting from the past is also fun!

This guide focuses on a range of documents produced in the 19th and 20th centuries found in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and is meant to serve as a point for accessing tutorials and workshops aimed at improving the skill of reading handwritten manuscripts from the past.


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