We often hear that handwriting is a dying art in the twenty-first century. I think it’s been redundant a lot longer than that. Since the Gutenberg press, the typewriter, the computer, all have been gradually eating away at the need to express ourselves with pens and pencils.
Mary Griener was my grandfather’s aunt. Born in the mid-nineteenth century in the midst of the Civil War, she was a highly educated young lady from Evansville Indiana. These are two pages from her eighth grade memory book. Sadly she would not live to see her fifteenth birthday, so this is more than a bit of handwriting history, it’s also a part of my family history to cherish.
Reflecting upon this bit of memorabilia should make us ponder whether we’d like to make handwritten memories of our own. As a grade school student in the fifties, we were among the last to learn the Palmer method. We also had autograph books in grade school and plenty of poems and signatures in our high school yearbooks.
Our daughter learned D’Nealian in the eighties. Not much social writing in her generation. My handwriting is proficient, her’s is functional. What will our granddaughter’s writing look like?
While I don’t advocate a return to teaching Spencerian in school, I do believe that everyone should have access to a fundamental knowledge and ability to write legibly. If for no other reason than it’s part of who you are. Yes, we dress more casually, we eat more casually and I believe that we can also write more casually but with beauty and style. It is in fact a reflection of who you are when you sign your name on that contract or check. Casual doesn’t have to mean sloppy and illegible.
You can find websites devoted to handwriting improvement for kids and adults. If you want to have a bit of fun, here’s a website for the National Handwriting Contest. There are categories for all ages and for both practical and formal handwriting: National Handwriting Contest This coming week also celebrates on January 23rd, in honor of John Hancock, National Handwriting Day. You can google and find lots of links but here is one to get you started: National Handwriting Day.
If you have a nice hand, share it by writing a note to someone you love. If you think your writing could be better, take time to seek out some online or in person lessons. Handwriting is fundamental to expressing who you are and while hiring someone to professionally address your special occasion envelopes is nice, we all should be able to handwrite letters and envelopes.