Until I took this course, FHGEN130 Paleography, I did not have a full understanding of what paleography truly was. I understood that by taking this class, I could gain the ability to read records with which I had been having no luck with. Little did I know, that there are so many different scripts to learn and decipher. I now understand the reason why I struggled with reading the records and documents about my ancestors that I had been gathering. Since beginning this course, I now know of and can read the following scripts: Palmer, Copperplate-Round Hand, Italic, Spencerian, and Secretary Hand.
The first script that I learned is the Palmer script. Austin Norman Palmer developed the Palmer Script in the 1870s and, it was prominent in the 1960s. Palmer is italic cursive letters and designed to be more of a masculine handwriting than an ornamental script. This writing system was intended to allow the body to perform efficiently by emphasizing position and posture. Public schools taught this script and businesses often used it.
The next script that we studied was Copperplate-Round Hand Script (Copperplate). The Copperplate script began developing in England in the 1600s. The colonies and England used Copperplate script from the 1600s through the 1800s. Thin upstrokes, thicker downstrokes, and fluid shaded letters are what make this script so recognizable. The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are both written in this script. Some official documents today, such as diplomas and certificates, still use Copperplate to add a sense of formal recognition.
An additional script that I studied was developed by Niccolo Niccoli. He developed the Italic script in Italy during the 1420’s. The Italic script was based on the Humanistic miniscule and designed because he felt that the lowercase minuscules took too long to form. The slightly sloped Italic script was quicker to write due to fewer strokes and joined letters. Although the Italic script fell out of use with the scribes when around the 1550s when the printing press was invented, it influenced the Copperplate Script and additional developments have been made to this script in the 20th century. It has since been used to teach cursive and by many