Paleography Tutorials: Websites

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Paleography Books Online

English Return to top

DigiPal From King's College, London, a resource for the study of paleography and diplomatic, mainly of Anglo-Saxon and early Norman manuscripts. Includes a large selection of digitised documents from this era.

Medieval Palaeography This site from Leicester University now contains material on early modern handwriting as well as medieval charters. The entire site can be purchased on CD-ROM if downloading is a hassle.

Palaeography - Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections This site shows images and transcripts of samples from manuscripts with different scripts in Dutch library and archival collections. The site is English language. Part of a larger site on Dutch manuscript collections.

Manuscript Studies: Medieval and Early Modern This appears to be some abandoned web flotsam, a series of notes and concepts for a web based course on manuscript studies from Canada. It was last updated in 1998, so will it ever happen?

English Handwriting This series of practical paleography lessons from Cambridge has a sophisticated approach and includes many additional resources. The elaborate screen arrangement requires a high res screen. This replaces their former site on English handwriting 1500-1700 and includes additional material from the 15th century, and is now part of their Scriptorium website.

Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500-1800 From the National Archives, a set of interactive transcription exercises, a whole bunch of extra images of documents with transcriptions to practise in your own way, and some concise but very apposite background information. This is mainly a a continuation from our timeframe here.

Medieval Latin Paleography A resource site for a course held at Syracuse University in 2001, there are some examples of manuscript pages as well as a bibliography.

Scottish Handwriting Online tuition in the reading of Scottish Secretary hand of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Carries on from where we leave off, and a little specialised in scope, but the site has some good tips for techniques in reading manuscripts, which could no doubt be adapted to other scripts.

InScribe: Palaeography Learning Materials From the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, a free introductory online course which leads to more advanced courses if you get the paleography bug.

Script Tutorial A work in progress which is not all there yet, but progressing, to teach paleography of scripts in various languages post 1500. Just a bit past our time frame mostly, but useful, with transcripted examples and interative exercises. From Brigham Young University .

Late Medieval English Scribes An online catalogue of scribal hands in manuscripts of five major Middle English authors. A bit of a microscopic view of paleography, but interesting to compare the hands of known individuals to the archetypes of paleographical classification.

Editions and Editing A site from Harvard University which aims to develop the skills to work with critical editions and medieval manuscripts, with a brief introduction to paleography

Enigma A useful tool for Latin paleographers. If you are stuck on one or two difficult letters in a word, or just can't untangle those rows of minims, you can type the word into a text box with wildcard characters and it will come up with a list of suggestions for you.

Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts While this site is about Greek manuscripts, it fits into our story here as it relates to the history of the Bible. The site is also wrongly listed on various other link pages as it has moved about. I also empathise with the author as he informs us that the site has been rejigged at times, having started life as a Hypercard stack. (Ask your grandmother about that, if your grandmother is a Mac user!) There is no rest for the technological educator! BUT IT'S STILL THERE. Longevity award.

French Return to top

Theleme. Techniques pour l'historien en ligne From the Ecole national des chartes at the Sorbonne in Paris, this excellent site allows you to work interactively through various examples of book and document scripts, mainly drawn from facsimiles. It is French language, but the graphic interface means that Anglophones with a smidgin of Latin can use it easily. More background material is promised for the future.

Cours de Palaeographie Simple introduction to paleography, in French, with exercises downloadable in Acrobat or Postscript format, mainly early modern rather than medieval.

Paléographie médiévale A French language site from L'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, providing numerous medieval manuscript samples with transcripts and commentary, as used in seminars and teaching sessions. They seem to make pretty free with material from other people's websites, including mine, but claim that they are not breaching copyright on the use of images because they have not actually copied them, just linked them from their original websites. Gives a whole new meaning to decontextualisation.

Comptes des Chatellenies Savoyardes This site currently shows four interactive paleography exercises from segments of 13th and 14th century accounts from Savoy. A small site, but it looks at a rather different class of document to most other sites.

Interactive Album of Medieval Palaeography A set of interactive reading and transcription exercises from the 9th to the 15th centuries, in Latin and French, graded by difficulty. There are links to digital images or catalogue descriptions from institutions holding the original manuscript. This is the English language version.

Italian Return to top


Spanish and Portuguese Return to top

Littera Visigothica This is a blog rather than a structured course, but it probably has the most information on the Visigothic script in one place on the web.

Spanish Handwriting A very brief introduction to Spanish paleography, mainly of the Early Modern period.

Spanish Paleography Tool An interactive learning tool for maunscripts written in Spanish from the late 15th century to the 18th. There are links to printed resources and online materials.

Abreviaturas Paleográficas Portuguesas An animation sequence that scroll through a virtual notebook with information on Portuguese abbreviations and letter forms.

German Return to top

Paläographisches Lesetraining A German language site for the reading of Latin scripts from the 5th to 20th centuries. It seems very much under construction, and currently contains several examples with simple transcription exercises.

Ad Fontes An introduction to archives and the reading of documents, using examples from the archives of the Benedictine monastery of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. The transcription exercises are very sophisticated, correcting your transcript, providing hints and correcting words when you mouse over the page, and interacting with your transcript. I wonder how they did that! Requires some German language (although the interface is pretty intuitive) and a Shockwave plugin. You must register a password, but access is free. There have been some massive changes to the abbey archives recently, but the site is till there, and there is now an App Fontes for your mobile phone.

Terminologie: Gotische Schriftarten This is a mainly German language site, part of a larger site on medieval manuscripts in Swiss libraries. This section gives an overview of Gothic script types, from formal to cursive book hands, with samples from manuscripts of the many variants.

Polish Return to top

Lublin W. Dokumencie This site shows legal documents from the city of Lublin in Poland, dating from the 14th to the 16th centuries. There are interactive running transcripts when you mouse over the high quality iimagery. The translations. diplomatic and archival descriptions are in Polish, but as they are Latin documents, those who don't read Polish can still use the interactive elements. Images are very high quality but slow to load. Be patient. There seems to be a bug in the site right now that means that the navigation bar is not loaded when you click on the link above. If this happens, type the url directly into your browser until such time as they fix it. (NB. It seemed to be fixed last time I looked.)

Paleography Books Online Return to top

Increasing numbers of out of copyright books are appearing online in their entirety. While these may not represent the most recent of scholarship, they are a great boon in a subject like paleography, as they represent the sound foundation for the discipline, but may be difficult to obtain even in libraries. Most of the sites listed here allow the whole book to be accessed without fee. There may be a problem accessing some complete texts from Google Books if you are outside the USA, even if they are out of copyright. There are some fixes for this involving proxy servers, but I had problems trying to download large pdfs of whole books this way, and have been reduced to printing page by page from copies on The Internet Archive - Texts.

E. M. Thomson Handbook of Greek and Latin Palaeography (1893) Contains many samples of scripts from a range of ages and geographical areas.

E.M. Thomson An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography (1912) Updated version of the above. Contains many samples with transcripts.

Wright, A. Court hand Restored (1867) This pre-photographic book does not have the fine facsimiles of some others, but has letter forms and a great deal of useful contextual information, such as Latin place names and the like, for English medieval legal handwritten documents. This is also available in its entirety from Google Books if you prefer their format. Just type the title into the Google search box.

Saunders, W. Ancient Handwriting; an introductory manual for intending students of palaeography and diplomatic (1909) I'm not personally acquainted with this one, but check it out and see if it helps.

Quaritch, B. Palaeography. Notes on the history of writing and the medieval art of illumination (1894) A limited edition printing which you may not get access to anywhere else.

Hall, H. Studies in English Official Historical Documents (1908) Gives you some background on the history of the English bureaucratic process and the types of documents in their archives.

Cope, E.E.T The Key to the Family Deed Chest. How to decipher and study old documents: being a guide to the reading of ancient manuscripts (1893) Ah, they wrote great titles in those days! That says it all really. A fairly elementary book making the subject approachable, but perhaps underplaying some of the difficulties.

New Palaeographical Society, London Indices to Facsimiles of Ancient Manuscripts etc Ist Series 1903-1912 (1914) You may have noted that I have used a lot of examples from this excellent series in this website. I presume this is just the index volume, as stated.

Hector, L.C. The Handwriting of English Documents (1958) This little handbook was once on the desk of every student working in the English public records, although it is not the most comprehensive text on the subject. This web version requires you to be a subscription holder to the parent site if you are to see more than a few pages.

Chassant, A. Paléographie des chartes et des manuscrits du XIe au XVIIe siècle (1885) An aged French paleography manual.

Prou, M. Manuel de paléographie latine et française de VIe au XVIIe siècle, suivi d'un dictionnaire des abréviations avec 23 facsimilés en phototypie (1892) This is a very useful French text covering both book and document paleography, including an extensive dictionary of abbreviations. There are two copies on the Internet Archive, and both have some defects, so if you encounter any missing pages or illustrations, you can also check here.

ARCHIVI - biblioteca - Paleografia latina (1910) You may also have noted that many of the examples on our own Medieval Writing website have been scanned in from an old German paleography text by Franz Steffens. This site provides the complete text and images of a French version of 1910 of the same work in Acrobat format. If we have whetted your appetite, you can download the complete examples to peruse at your leisure. Yes, the site is Italian but the text of the book is French, translated from German. This is the World Wide Web, OK?

Historische Hilfswissenschaffen und Mittellatein This is another version of Steffens, with both a German version (Lateinische Paläographie 1909) and a French version (Paléographie latine (1910), including images with zoom and save functions and transcriptions. From the University of Freiburg.

Muñoz y Rivero, J. Manual de Paleografia Diplomatica Española de los Siglos XII al XVII (c.1889) Well, if this is a little esoteric for you, I have been looking for a Spanish paleography book for ages. I might even be able to do you some Spanish paleography exercises.

Capelli, A. Lexicon Abbreviaturum (1928) Now this is really useful. A dictionary of Latin abbreviations, with graphic images to show exactly how the abbreviation marks are made. It is on a German language site, but if you don't read German, just follow the navigation in the sidebar. The main dictionary content is self-explanatory. There are plain text versions of this book on the Internet Archive and on a Moscow University site.


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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last updated 20/1/2016.