Sunday, November 17, 2013

Handwriting: An Historian Sounds An Alarm

The document below is admittedly a rather prosaic one drawn from the compiled service record of Theophilus Perry, a soldier in the 28th Texas Cavalry. It is included for a simple reason; namely, can you read it?

Some of my students this semester have stated that they find it extremely difficult to read handwriting, not because they have vision problems, but because they have little experience writing in cursive or deciphering cursive handwriting. On top of this, I have read recently that there are public schools that will no longer be teaching cursive handwriting. Regrettably, this means that future historians will have a difficult time if they wish to study our “early” history. Will the contents of handwritten documents be more likely to be ignored if they can’t be easily read? Will historians decide to concentrate on the more recent past as a result? Will history departments add a special course someday on how to decipher cursive handwriting? Perhaps special software will be developed to aid in the process of decoding that handwriting? 

No comments:

Post a Comment