From the Archives IV: The Handwriting Is Off the Wall

Do you miss handwriting? I thought I did, but my research experience this week has me wondering. As I dug through the Philadelphia archives working on my new book, I’ve been confounded by the arcane art of penmanship.peanuts.1967.04.25

Most of my archive work over the past decade or so has been in twentieth-century collections. As SAGLRROILYBYGTH might recall, I’ve enjoyed leafing through old pages of type-written correspondence. I feel an acute nostalgia for the days of elaborate letterhead.

What I never had to wrestle with, though, is page after page of hand-written correspondence. Some of it is absolutely gorgeous. I have no idea how long it would take to write this way. Some of it is terrible and impossible to read—Charlie Brown level penmanship.

I’ll share a few of the most elaborate bits here for your Sunday morning delectation.

random handwritig 1random handwriting 2random handwriting 3random handwriting 4random handwriting 5

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. New reader here, and I don’t tend to comment on a first visit, but this entry caught me. I am left handed. Between graduating with my BS in computer engineering and beginning to take classes–purely for interest–that would eventually culminate in an MS in geology, I spent 25 years in industry. My medium was the computer, and my writing instrument the keyboard. While I wrote many documents for work, all I wrote by hand during that time were notes in greeting cards and grocery lists,

    Geology is a more descriptive subject than computer engineering, and a great deal more memorization is required in some subfields. I had to take good notes in class, and at first I didn’t find my hand-pen-brain connection up to the task. But over the course of the first semester I developed a sort of combination script/longhand that allowed me to write quickly and clearly. I’m not falsely claiming the “clearly” part; many classmates, when they missed a session, wanted to photocopy my notes.

    So, while I don’t directly advocate for longhand (so much of it is elegant but unreadable), I do advocate for teaching people some scheme that’s faster than printing. I am very much not a fan of taking electronic notes. There seems to be a physical connection between the hand and brain that lodges ideas through the note taking process, which does not exist when the notes are taken by typing. I often find, when I take notes by hand, that it is the process itself that records the knowledge in my mind. I believe studies have shown that this doesn’t necessarily happen to computer note takers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: