The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Starting Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Paleography (or palaeography) is an odd word isn’t it?  I mean, we all know what paleontology is (well, if you have kids you do since dinosaurs are awesome) and some of you may know a few other disciplines that begin with pale.  But what exactly is paleography?

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary it is:

1        the study of ancient writings and inscriptions

2      a :  an ancient manner of writing  b :  ancient writings

So, for genealogists having a firm grasp in this discipline sounds like a must.  Do you agree?  Thankfully, The National  Institute offers such a course and I am diving into it full steam ahead.

However, and many of you may be figuring this out about me, I have had exposure to paleography in the past. In fact, I have studied various forms of medieval calligraphy for the past decade. I simply love old handwriting and calligraphy. Some of it is amazingly beautiful. Some of it, well, is amazingly undecipherable! I bet you have seen some words, symbols, shorthand or other things that made you want to scream!

Which is why I was excited to see that   Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents covers more than just how things were written. I am particularly interested to learn more about weights and measurements plus Latin terminology. In school I took German, not Latin, and even though I am slowly picking up some words as I read old manuscripts, knowing more Latin would be helpful.

I was intrigued to see that there is a workbook included with this course. There are exercises (hey, you get a dip pen too!) for each module that appear to put you through your paces. I love a good practical application, so I think this will be fun. Plus, it is unique as it is the first course I have taken with a workbook included. It is making me a little excited to see what is in store!

So, I hope you enjoy reading the blog the next few weeks. I am sure that you will stay entertained as I slog my way through  Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents.

See you online!

 

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  • Anna says:

    I am taking the course now also, and am loving it. Some of the transcription exercises early on were tricky while I was getting familiar with the different scripts. I started by thinking I saw one letter but it was really another letter. As I move through the modules, I am learning a lot.

    June 7, 2016 at 5:42 pm

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