Family history documents and stories to supplement the genealogical information at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

National Handwriting Day

My great-grandmother, Katie Weinsz Gordon, spent a lot of time writing things down. She kept a journal, and almost every photograph and document that passed through her hands bears a notation of some sort. The following example is a particularly detailed one, written on the back of a photo of her girlhood home.
Weinsz House, Dover, Ohio
Weinsz House, Dover, Ohio

I don't have too many memories of her; I was brought up in Illinois and she lived in central Ohio and we didn't see each other that often. But one time when she came to visit in Illinois, she sat down with us kids and showed us how (encouraged us?) to do handwriting exercises. I remember these exercises as rows and rows of scrolling ovals, but I'm sure there was more to it than I remember. I thought it was fun because I'd never seen anything like that when I learned to write.

I didn't know then, but those exercises were similar to the ones set forth in the Palmer Method. A. N. Palmer's penmanship book was published in 1894 and I think Katie was already attending school by then, but she must have learned handwriting by a similar method.

National Handwriting Day is January 23, the birthday of John Hancock, and brought to us by (surprise, surprise) the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association.

If you want to know more about the development of penmanship, there's a fascinating book review of Handwriting in America at Paperpenalia.

I don't know about you, but my handwriting has greatly deteriorated since I started using a keyboard for almost all written communication. Time to add penmanship exercises to the list of things I oughtto do. I should have stuck with them when Grandma tried to teach us.
Katherine Weinsz

Labels: ,