Fashions in handwriting

This post is a change from a book review. I have not been spending as much time reading recently, because I have embarked on a voyage of discovery. From the comfort of my home I can explore the past. Have you guessed? I am researching the family history of various branches, particularly my mother’s maternal line and both lines of my mother-in-law. I have made more progress with the latter as people had more varied and less usual names.

I like to look at the original transcriptions of census records. Enumerators copied the information from the forms filled in by heads of households. Some of the writing is almost indecipherable. Typed transcriptions are available. Often some of the details have been omitted or incorrectly transcribed.

A contents page fom a school project on the history of books
An example of my earlier handwriting. Notice how upper case T and I were written.

At school I was taught cursive writing. I didn’t find it easy to write neatly using this style. I held my pen too tightly and tried to write too quickly. In my teens I changed to italic script. However, many of the records are written in the style I was taught. Some capital letters are quite different from most of the fonts we are familiar with today.

An older style of writing was copperplate. It is a very even form of joined-up writing. Many historical documents were written in copperplate.

I have managed to deduce what some of the indecipherable words were by looking at census records for the same families at different times. What I jotted down as ‘Renul Maker’ turned out to be Pencil Maker. Pencil-making was an important industry in the Lake District. There is a pencil museum in Keswick, where the history of he local industry is presented.

But back to fashions in handwriting. By the time my children were learning to write, the style chosen was much rounder than earlier generations had been taught.

Styles of handwriting are also different from one country to another. In the past I used to correspond with pen-friends in France and Germany. Their style of writing was different from that taught in English schools. Where our n and m had arches theirs had gullies like our u.

How were you taught to write? Do you still use the same style of writing?