Palaeography is an essential skill for historical research. Our Transcription Desk can be used as a useful teaching and training tool for palaeography and manuscript studies. Those engaged in historical research who wish to hone their palaeographic skills can practice deciphering old handwriting by transcribing Jeremy Bentham. As Transcribe Bentham is a collaborative, web-based project, users can work on a manuscript collectively and discuss their progress together online as they proceed. Bentham’s papers date from the 1770s until the 1820s and they contain a range of different stylistic flourishes, idiosyncratic spellings, contractions and abbreviations.
Bentham’s early manuscripts are the easiest to read while the later papers are more challenging. The manuscripts have been categorised according to chronology and difficulty level and beginners are encouraged to start out with a manuscript selected from the easy category.
- Tips for reading Bentham
- An example of a completed transcript
- Guide to using Transcribe Bentham as an eLearning resource by the Higher Education Academy History Subject Centre
- Start transcribing!
If you would like feedback on your transcription, or advice on how to transcribe or decipher a particular manuscript, please email us.
For more advice on palaeography and for online tutorials, see the following websites:
- National Archives: Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500-1800
- Scottish Handwriting: online tuition in the palaeography of Scottish documents
- Inscribe: Palaeography learning materials from the Institute of Historical Research and the School of Advanced Study
- French Renaissance Palaeography: The Newberry Library, Chicago
Read more about Transcribe Bentham and palaeography.