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Transcribe Bentham


A Participatory Initiative



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 1830s 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.  There are also quite a few manuscripts which were written by Bentham’s secretaries – their writing is usually much easier to read than Bentham’s!

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.

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:

Read more about Transcribe Bentham and palaeography.