Monday, June 6, 2016

Voices from the Past

Lately I've had an opportunity to travel backwards in time and revisit a few old lessons. Wendy and I have been working on our family trees, shaking the branches to see who falls out. That's been an interesting voyage so far, especially when we're rummaging through old census records, and birth and death certificates. And here's one more plug for cursive writing--that's how the majority of these old records were recorded.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that not all of them are 100 percent legible. Some are just flat-out unreadable. A script 'F' looks a lot like a 'T' at times. But that's how they were written, so we work with what we have. And if we lose the ability write, and especially read, old manuscripts, then in a couple of generations or so all that information will vanish. Perhaps a super-sophisticated computer program could interpret cursive, but I doubt it. Plus, I'm Luddite enough to think that we still need to use our human eyeballs and gray matter for that purpose.

Beyond the obvious visual aspect of cursive handwriting, there's the individual's personality and style that gets infused into it. No two people write cursive the same way. And, a person's handwriting changes over time. That's something that can help a researcher establish the time period of a document when other clues fail.

Then there's the purely artistic side of cursive writing. From the pen and hand of a master, it's like looking at any work of art. On the other hand, from someone like me, my 'Z' look like, well, any other letter of the alphabet.

I'd like to see the computer that could read my handwriting.

Keep writing, friends.

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