17th Century New England, with special emphasis on the Salem Witchcraft Trials

Reading 17th Century Handwriting

In my role as an Associate Editor of the forthcoming volume Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, I have had to learn a lot about the penmanship practices used in the original manuscripts that we are transcribing. This area of my site will eventually include information about the unusual ways various letters and digits were formed, along with spelling, punctuation and abbreviation practices, with some information about the pens and paper used at the time.

Please check back later when I've had a chance to prepare this material for the web, but for now, if you are interested in reference materials, I can suggest the following titles:

  • Bailey, Kent P., and True, Ransom B. A Guide to Seventeenth-Century Virginia Court Handwriting. Virginia Genealogical Society: Richmond, VA. 2001.

  • Sperry, Kip. Reading Early American Handwriting. Genealogical Publishing Co.: Baltimore, MD. 1998. Order from Amazon.com

  • Stryker-Rodda, Harriet. Understanding Colonial Handwriting. Genealogical Publishing Co.: Baltimore, MD. 1986. Order from Amazon.com

  • Tannenbaum, Samuel A.. The Handwriting of the Renaissance, Being the Development and Characteristics of the Script of Shakspere's Time. Columbia University Press: New York. 1931.

See also:

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This page was last updated 04/09/18 by Margo Burns, My email address.