My particularly brilliant grandchildren grew up in the digital age and therefore can barely read or write cursive handwriting. Learning script has fallen to the wayside, sadly abandoned from elementary school curriculum in favor of learning to type on a computer.
This means my grandchildren couldn’t begin to decipher the old handwritten documents that I’ve gathered in our family history research.
I grew up learning the Palmer method popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_Method
Even this childhood training didn’t prepare me for deciphering older documents. Self-education quickly ensued, and I learned about double Ss and common abbreviation practices common to colonial era court documents.
Here are two online tutorials this Ol’ Myrt has found useful.
Brigham Young University’s Script Tutorial https://script.byu.edu/ includes English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish interactive tutorials.
The National Records of Scotland’s Scottish Handwriting Tutorial https://www.scottishhandwriting.com/tutorials.asp focuses on the evolution of handwriting styles in a variety of record sets historians are likely to encounter.
APPLY 21st CENTURY TECH
New to me is Nanonets for AI (artificial intelligence) handwriting-to-text conversion. This app can decipher digital images of handwritten documents in 40 languages.
Check out “How to Convert an Image with Handwriting to Text in 2023” by Hrida Nimrani published 3 months ago in the Nanonets Blog. [ https://nanonets.com/blog/convert-handwriting-to-text/ The author describes pros and cons for eight different apps. Though Google is not included, our old friends Adobe and Microsoft are compared.
For best results, the imaged document to be deciphered should be clear, not prone to fading, and free from ink bleeding through from the other side.
AI handwriting-to-text may provide breakthroughs for genealogists, but I’d recommend using more than one app and spending time evaluating the reliability of the handwriting interpretation.