The dying art of reading handwriting

Spending time in the reading room of State Records NSW at Kingswood and the State Library NSW can be an educational experience.

I sometimes come across university history students looking for convict indent records as part of an assignment, and I help them when I can with the finding and the printing. The surprising thing to me was that they can’t read the records!

It’s not beautiful writing, but that isn’t the problem. The style of writing I was taught at school in the late 1960s was called Modified Cursive. Or running writing. Joined-up writing. The pen doesn’t leave the paper until the end of each word.

Kids don’t seem to learn to write like this at school any more. I have no idea why, but they learn to write in a way that we used to call “printing”. Where each letter is separated from the next. Block letters.

Perhaps it’s easier for kids to learn. Or for teachers to read. They learn to type and use computers and calculators, and never have to write a lot, or write quickly. I don’t know why it changed, or what most of the consequences are.

So what’s going to happen in the future?

We often hear about the Death of Microfilm and how all these records that have been preserved on microfilm will be unreadable in 50 years unless we transfer them to another media because we won’t have microfilm readers, or the spare parts for them.

Never mind the media, it seems to me that even if they are all digitised in the next 5 years we will still have a problem.

Who’s going to be able to read them?

World Vital Records half-price subscription ends today

World Vital Records is one of the more recent entrants to the online genealogy records market, and has access to a lot of material from Archive CD Books and the Queensland Family History Society.

Their World Collection, which includes Australia, New Zealand and the UK, is normally double this price, and so this is great value. If you are already a subscriber the year will be added on the end. I am now a subscriber until March 2011!

This is a real bargain. It cost me $72.77 in Australian dollars this morning.

Free Site Access 300x250 For Geneologists

World Vital Records free access extended to 18th August

The free access announced on the 11th August has proved so popular that they are extending the deadline to the 18th August.

I already have an account with them which I use frequently. Government Gazettes, Police Gazettes, directories, and a lot of content from Queensland FHS make this worthwhile to have a good hard look around!

The ad seems to have miraculously changed, but the half-price offer for the World collection is a great deal, especially if you have, as I do, ancestors from the States as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Free Site Access 300x250 For Geneologists