Advent Calendar – Day 7

And behind number 7 is…

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Hilary Marshall’s Palaeography for Family and Local Historians

Hilary Marshall's 'Palaeography for Family and Local Historians' - available in Local Studies

Click image to enlarge

Available on the shelves in the Computer Room, this is a great guide for beginners and intermediates trying to read old handwriting in different documents, all used for family and local history. From parish registers to title deeds, this guide includes handy alphabets showing the different shapes each letter might take, example documents with transcripts and explanations to help you practice.

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Learn how to read old handwriting with our new palaeography course

Palaeography pic

Learn the art of palaeography, the reading of old handwriting, at Derbyshire Record Office.

Using archives from the record office’s collections, these five practical sessions, designed for beginners, will introduce the skills needed to read old hand writing from 16th to 18th centuries.

You will learn how to read different types of handwriting, including the most commonly used hand – Secretary Hand, and also Italic and Cursive styles and discover how to date documents and recognise the standard form particular to certain documents.

The first session, the introduction, will cover the practical skills of palaeography including spelling, transcribing, letter forms, dating documents, and abbreviations and more. Over the following four sessions we will take you through a different style of hand, working through copies of records held at the record office, the original documents will be on show for you to see. As Secretary Hand is the most common style used for formal documents we’ll have two sessions on this but each session will feature different types of sources.

We will work through a selection of the most popular types of documents such as parish registers, probate records, manorial and estate records.

Each participant will receive a course pack to take away containing examples of alphabets, common abbreviations, hints and tips on successful transcribing. This will set participants on the right track for successful transcribing throughout the course and beyond.

Refreshments are not included but participants are welcome to use the drinks machine in our break room (all hot drinks cost £1).

We are offering all five sessions at the reduced price of £45 or £10 for each individual session. In order to benefit fully we recommend participants attend all five sessions.

Tuesday 27th October: Introduction – practical skills and where to start

Tuesday 3rd November: Secretary Hand (part 1)

Tuesday 10th November: Secretary Hand (part 2)

Tuesday 17th November: Cursive Hand

Tuesday 24th November: Italic Hand

All sessions run 2.00pm-4.00pm

You can sign up online on the palaeography course’s Eventbrite page.

This course coincides with Explore Your Archive week, co-ordinated by The National Archives.

Treasure 6: A how-to guide to handwriting from 1571

This book, dating from 1571, was chosen by archivist Karen Millhouse, who writes:

Palaeography, the study of ancient handwriting, is a skill which those who work in archives have to develop quite quickly!  This handwriting exercise book contains not only beautiful examples of script but also provides the opportunity for us to chart how styles of handwriting have developed over the centuries – which in turn helps us to date documents more accurately. I particularly like seeing how the owner of this book has practised the letters – with varying degrees of success!

Our Artist in Residence, Paula Moss, shares my love of this volume and has used illustrations from it as her inspiration for window coverings in our microfilm room – why don’t you take a look?

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Concerned about the physical condition of this book? So are we – that’s why our Assistant Conservator has chosen it as the basis of a forthcoming project. We will use the blog to let you know when the work has been done.