Palaeography

On this page I do not present yet another online tutorial for palaeography, probably the most used and certainly most practical historical auxiliary science. Palaeography is the discipline aiming at the study and decipherment of old scripts and transferring texts into modern writing systems. Some tutorials provide very rich materials for exercises. The websites presented here are alphabetically ordered by country. You will first see a section focusing on periods. I indicate also the focus of a manua on manuscripts or archival records or on both. I have added here also a number of transcription guidelines for various countries. In a number of cases materials can be useful for more than one country and region, for example for the United Kingdom and the United States, France and Canada, and for Spain and Latin America.

You will need palaeographical skills not only for reading manuscripts and archival records. Abbreviations and peculiar letter forms are also present in printed books and documents. You can find here information about books and tools dealing with abbreviations. Knowledge of palaeography also helps to determine the date and origin of documents without an indication of time and location. You will be able to depend less on existing editions, transcriptions and translations. It will bring you closer to written sources, their contents and the history of writing. Perhaps most practical of all, paleography helps you to develop your reading skills, and thus you will not be completely lost when seeing scripts very different from what you already knew. Abbreviations are still a common stumbling stone even for the best automated transcription tools.

Legal abbreviations, more particular those refering to sources for Roman and canon law, are the subject on my page Abbreviationes.

Palaeography as one of the historical auxiliary sciences was founded by the Benedictine monk and scholar Jean Mabillon (1632-1707) in his work De re diplomatica libri VI (Paris 1681; online, Landesbibliothek Oldenburg, see also the version of the edition Paris 1709 by Marc-Robin Wendt). With other monks belonging to the Congregation of St. Maur – see for them the blog Analecta Maurina – led from the abbey of St. German-des-Prés – now within Paris – Mabillon made extensive travels to libraries in France and abroad to investigate historical sources. Another monk of this congregation, Bernard de Montfaucon (1655-1741), coined the neologism palaeography in the title of his study Palaeographia Graeca (Paris 1708).

A growing number of institutions invoke the help of the public to transcribe or index digitized archival resources held at archives or libraries. At portal sites such as Zooniverse, Citizen Archivist (NARA), By the people (Library of Congress), Smithsonian Digital VolunteersEuropeana Transcribe, Archives nationales participatives, Transcrire (with French field notes and letters about geography, ethnology and archaeology), DigiVol, Transcribe (National Archives Australia) and From The Page you will find a wide variation of projects. For the Netherlands and Belgium the portal Vele Handen (Many Hands) is home to many projects concerning archival records; there is a multilingual interface. Zooniverse, too, has a number of Dutch projects at Wikiscripta Neerlandica II. Leiden University has its own transcription portal, https://transcription.digitalscholarship.nl/.

For reading old documents and manuscripts you will need other auxiliary sciences, too. I mention here some online resources for subjects such as chronology and medieval Latin, including Latin names of locations. For European languages the online dictionaries of the European Dictionary Portal are most helpful.

For calligraphy I would like to point to the website Penna Volans with a good choice of digitized printed manuals from the sixteenth century onwards and a journal.

Sometimes faded handwriting can be made more visible using the free online tool RetroReveal, access after registration. I have added elsewhere on my website an overview of manuscript repertories.

General sites

  • Ad Fontes, Universität Zürich – a platform with guidance for doing research with archival records, with as its core a tutorial for reading medieval and Early Modern archival records from several countries, with also transcription rules and resources for e.g. chronology (a digital version of the Grotefend) and the Cappelli for abbreviations; you can register as a user; interface German, English and French – note also the introductions to other historical auxiliary sciences, such as heraldry, and specific source genres – global history, old Japanese maps and photography in Africa are als present
  • School, Virtual Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN – with currently tutorials for European, Syriac and Arabic manuscripts; there is also further information about scripts and languages, and a lexicon for terms concerning manuscripts
  • MultiPal, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris – a tutorial with exercises for documents and coins from many periods and countries in a variety of languages; interface French and English
  • L’aventure des écritures, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris – an educational website about book history, the history of scripts and writing supports, with a bibliography
  • 5300 Jahre Schrift, Materiale Textkulturen, Heidelberg – the web version of a book on the history of scripts with fifty chapters
  • The Art of Handwriting, Special Collections, Newcastle University – a virtual exhibition about the history, uses and future of handwriting
  • Palaeography, The Schøyen Collection – a tour of scripts all over the world in seven sections, with also filters for several themes such as the law
  • Alte Schriften, N. Bartz – a huge collection of historical scripts
  • Early Printing and Writing Collection, Reed Digital Collections, Reed College, Portland, Oregon – 500 handwritten documents and manuscripts and 100 printed pages, mainly from 1400 to 1800, most of them from France and Italy, but there are also some earlier and later examples from all over the world
  • Schriftgeschichte, Typolexikon – a nutshell history of writing on the website of Wolfgang Beinert on typography; he has also a page on the history of palaeography
  • Slavic Scripts, Fonts and Alphabets, Kodeks, Universität Bamberg – interface German and English
  • Latin Paleography: From Antiquity to the Renaissance, A.M. Piazzoni, Vatican Library – a rich thematic virtual exhibit and tutorial around manuscripts on the Spotlight platform of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, with also a bibliography; interface English and Italian
  • READ: Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents – now better known as Transkribus, an international platform in Innsbruck for electronic character recognition of handwriting and printed texts in which many archival institutions participate, with a learning module Transkribus Learn with many hundred examples of handwriting; access after free registration – the website Famous Hands showing the handwriting of famous European people was free accessible – it is also possible now to upload images to Transkribus AI, you can preset the language and handwritten or printed; not all public HTR models are present, you can find them on the main site
  • MONK, Universiteit Groningen and Nationaal Archief, The Hague – a Dutch project for electronic decipherment of manuscripts and archival records
  • Paleography Boot Camp: Script Samples, Siân Echard, University of British Columbia – a nicely illustrated guide to scripts from Roman antiquity and the Middle Ages; note also her illustrated Terms for Manuscripts Studies
  • ScriptSource: Wrtiing systems, peoples and computers – with attention to current and historical scripts worldwide

Abbreviations deserve special attention:

You can consult online several (older) manuals for deciphering medieval and later abbreviations:

  • Adriano Cappelli, Lexicon abbreviaturarum / Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane – the most used guide for deciphering Roman and medieval abbreviations; there is a database version created by Ad Fontes in Zurich, a web version (edition 1912) and 1929, or you can use the German edition 1928 (Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln) and a shortened English version [The elements of abbreviation in medieval palaeography, David Heimann and Richard Kay (transl.) (1982)] – there is now even a Cappelli quiz!
  • Johann Ludolf Walther, Lexicon diplomaticum : abbreviationes syllabarum et vocum in diplomatibus et codicibus (Göttingen 1752; reprint Hildesheim 1973) – online, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf – a book using beautiful fonts and fine calligraphy
  • Adolphe Chassant, Dictionnaire des abréviations latines et françaises (Paris 1886) – online, Internet Archive
  • T. Martin, The record interpreter: a collection of abbreviations, Latin words and names used in English historical manuscripts and records (2nd ed., London, 1910) – online, Internet Archive
  • Andrew Wright, Court Hand restored: or, The student’s assistant in reading old deeds, charters records, etc. (…) – at Digital Georgetown you can find the editions 1776 and 1879 held at Georgetown Law Library
  • J.M. Hulákovsky, Abbreviaturae vocabulorum usitatae in scripturis praecipue Latinis medii aevi, tum etiam Slavicis et Germanicis (Prague 1852, reprint Munich 1988) – online. Digi20, Digitale Sammlungen
  • Marek Winiarczyk, Sigla latina in libris impressis occurrentia cum siglorum Graecorum appendice (2nd ed., Wroclaw 1995) – there is a text-only online version at the CAMENA digital library of the Universität Mannheim; in German: Abkürzungen aus Personalschriften des XVI. bis XVIII. Jahrhunderts (3rd ed., Wiesbaden 2002)

The blog Aktenkunde offers a useful list of printed works on Early Modern abbreviations in Germany.

Apps for palaeography

  • Abbreviationes, Olaf Pluta, Ruhr-Universität Bochum – a commercial app for deciphering abbreviated words, one of the earliest online tools for palaeography
  • App Fontes, Zürich – freeware – an app version of the Ad Fontes tutorial, with also tools for chronology (Grotefend) and location names (Graesse, Orbis latinus)
  • Medieval handwriting, Leeds University Library – freeware – both manuscripts and archival records
  • English Renaissance handwriting, Leeds University Library – freeware – manuscripts and archival records
  • Gotisk håndskrift, Arkivverket – freeware, iOS – a Norwegian app created by the Norwegian national archival service

Periods

Middle Ages

  • Medieval handwriting, Dianne Tillotson – with a good overview of online tutorials on a site worth visiting, and also a blog
  • Earlier Latin Manuscripts, National University of Ireland, Galway – for research in manuscripts written before 800, based on E.A. Lowe’s Codices Latini Antiquiores (11 vol. and supplement, Oxford 1934-1971)
  • Littera Visigothica, Ainoa Castro – a blog about the Visigothic script, in English and Spanish, with as for now not yet an online tutorial, but for any other respect the starting point, a model of its kind; there is an accompanying site VisigothicPal, inspired by DigiPal
  • Dossiers documentaires, Theleme, École nationale de Chartes, Paris – more than one hundred medieval manuscripts and archival documents with transcription and commentary – since December 2021 you can also use the platform Adele (Album de diplomatique en ligne)
  • Enigma, Ciham, Lyon/CNRS – Marjorie Burghart developed a tool to decipher incomplete Latin words; interface in ten languages; she also created five short online exercisess with medieval accounts from the Savoye region (Castellanie, Comptes des châtellenies savoyardes), a project of the Archivio di Stato di Torino and two French departemental archives
  • DigiPal: Digital Resource and Database for Palaeography, Manuscript Studies and Diplomatic, King’s College London – a project around English medieval manuscripts and archival records
  • Late Medieval English Scribes, University of York, Oxford and Sheffield – a project around manuscripts with texts by five English literary authors which can serve as a palaeographical atlas
  • Paleography Resources & Tools, Paleography@Penn, University of Pennsylvania – an overview with digitized literature focusing on English and Latin sources
  • Paléographie, Ménestrel – a very extensive guide to books and websites about medieval palaeography
  • Handbok i nørron filologi: Faksimilar – a commented list of Scandinavian medieval manuscripts
  • Palaeographic Atlas, Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections – an extensive introduction to medieval manuscripts and scripts with many images
  • Einführung in die Paläographie I, Universität Kassel – a German introduction to medieval palaeography, part II deals in particular with medieval scripts; both parts have a quiz – sadly both stopped due to technical problems
  • Bartholomew’s World: Paleography, Stanford University – an introduction to palaeography around the thirteenth-century author Bartholomaeus Anglicus, with a glossary of palaeographic terms
  • Inscribe: Palaeography learning materials, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London – only a part of these materials has been archived, the overview and the module on medieval scripts, both free accessible
  • Marc Smith and Laura Light, Script (Les Enluminures / Text Manuscripts, 2016; PDF) – a concise introduction created around twelve different medieval manuscripts; there are more volumes in the Primers series, for instance by Susan L’Engle and Ariane Bergeron-Foote on Law (2013, PDF), also around twelve manuscripts, and on Diplomatics by Christopher de Hamel and Ariane Bergeron-Foote (2015, PDF) for several document genres – among other volumes one should mention Sandra Hindman and Ariane Bergeron-Foote, Binding and the archaeology of the medieval and renaissance book (PDF)
  • Mittelalterliche Geschichte: Paläographie, Mathias Kluge – five chapters with short videos about aspects of medieval palaeography, for example scripts in charters, abbreviations, interpunction and comparing scripts; codicology gets attention in another section
  • Schriftenstammbaum, Codices: Antike und mittelalterliche Handschriften in der Schweiz – a searchable tree structure to determine what kind of medieval script you are looking at; scripts from Southern Italy, Spain and English cursive scripts have been excluded
  • Kathleen Walker-Meikle, Transcribing medieval manuscripts and archival material, Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) – a concise introduction to transcription with an overview of onlne tutorials and a bibliography
  • Transcribe Estoria, University of Birmingham and Universidad de Alcalá – a website in English and Spanish around the Estoria de Espanna of king Alfonso X, with a tutorial
  • Reinhold Merkelbach and Helmut van Thiel, Lateinisches Leseheft zur Einführung in Paläographie und Textkritik (Göttingen 1969) – online, Digi20, Digitale Sammlungen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich
  • Émile Chatelain, Paléographie des classiques latins (Paris 1884-1900) – an older classic work in a digital version created by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with images of Late Antique and medieval manuscripts of the main classical Latin authors
  • Supertextus notarum tironianarum: Hypertext-Lexikon der tironischen Noten, Martin Hellmann – the tironian notes were a form of tachygraphy, but medieval scribes sometimes used it as an encrypted script; the MGH have developed a Rückwärtssuche for inverse searching
  • Frank Coulson and Robert Babcock (eds.), The Oxford handbook of Latin paleography (Oxford, 2020)

A key element in reading many medieval documents is medieval Latin. The online dictionaries at Logeion (University of Chicago) can help you very much when translating and interpreting classical and medieval Latin. At the dictionary portal Wörterbuchnetz (Universität Trier) the first volume (A-C) of the Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch is available online. Placenames in Latin form another challenge for which you can use the online version of the 1972 edition of the Orbis Latinus, available in a textual database of the Bayerische Landesbibliothek / Bavarikon.

Early Modern period (1500-1800)

  • Script Tutorials, Brigham Young University – tutorials for Dutch, German, English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish documents, with primarily attention to genealogical resources (parish registers, records of baptism, marriage, burial etc.), partially still under construction, and also texts in Latin; interface English and source languages
  • Transkribus LEARN – a tutorial for learning to read Early Modern archival records, with documents from several European countries; there are now also medieval and fairly modern examples, all on two levels of difficulty
  • Paleographic Challenge 2020, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT – some 70 exercises with Early Modern manuscripts and archival records

Some subjects cover multiple periods and/or countries, and even continents:

Classical Antiquity

There are many good introduction to epigraphy, the study of ancient inscriptions, but only a few sites deal with the scripts used:

  • Mnamon: Antiche scritture del Mediterraneo. Guida critcia alle risorse elettroniche, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa – a guide to online resources and many examples; interface Italian, English and French
  • Late Babylonian Signs (LaBaSi), Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, Vienna – surprisingly, the palaeography of cuneiform scripts is a very new discipline
  • Abbreviations in Latin inscriptions, Tom Elliott for the American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy
  • Latin abbreviations, Trismegistos – a database version by Mark Depauw and Tom Ghelof based on the ECDS Epigraphik Datenbank
  • Palaeography: An introduction, Vindolanda Tablets Online – adapted from Alan Bowman and David Thomas, Vindolanda: the Latin writing tablets (London 1983); the chapter from the second edition (London 1994) is also available online
  • Cursus cursief Latijns schrift [A course in cursive Latin writing] – a PDF taken from J.A.D. Zeinstra, Romeinse schrijfplankjes uit Nederlandse bodem en andere epigrafica. De Iudici Ius-Tabula uit Velsen. De Tabula Sigillata van Tolsum et alia (Leeuwarden 2010) for deciphering wax tables and some other Roman inscriptions found in the Netherlands
  • Signs of life, Europeana EAGLE – an exhibition created by this European epigraphy project with some attention to scripts and alphabets used in inscriptions
  • Joyce and Arthur Gordon, Contributions to the palaeography of Latin inscriptions (Berkeley-Los Angeles 1957; online, Hathi Trust Digital Library)
  • Vanessa Davies and Dimitry Laboury (eds.), The Oxford handbook of Egyptian epigraphy and paleography (Oxford, 2020)
  • Paläographie der Hieratischen und der Kursivhieroglyphen, Universität Mainz – a resarch project around scripts in ancient Egypt
  • Fabricius, Arts & Experiments with Google, Google Arts & Culture – an educational tool for learning to decipher hieroglyphs
  • Ricardo Caminos and Henry Fischer, Ancient Egyptian Epigraphy and Palaeography (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 1976; online) – interesting for the background
  • Write Your Name in Hieroglyphs, Penn Museum, Philadelphia – more a game tahn a deciphering tool, but nice to see

Papyri – see also Museums and legal history

Arabic palaeography

Asia

  • Indoskript, Harry Falk and Oliver Hellwig, Berlin – for Brahmi and Kharosthi script, classical scripts in India; version 1.0 can still be downloaded
  • The World of South Asian Scripts, The University of Chicago Library – not a tutorial or guide, but an interesting virtual exhibit
  • C. Sivaramamurthi, Indian epigraphy and South Indian Scripts (Chennai, 1999; online, PDF, 27 MB, Government Museum, Chennai)

Byzantine palaeography

  • Byzantine paleography, Internet History Sourcebooks, Paul Halsall, Fordham University – an introduction to the palaeography of sources for Byzantine history from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Greek palaeography

Hebrew scripts

  • Malachi Beit-Arié, Hebrew codicology. Historical and Comparative Typology of Medieval Hebrew Codices based on the Documentation of the Extant Dated Manuscripts until 1540 using a Quantitative Approach, transl. Ilana Goldberg, edited by Nurit Pasternak (Jerusalem-Hamburg 2021; online PDF, 17 MB) – this definitive introduction to Hebrew manuscripts builds on the database SfarData (National Library of Israel) and contains chapters on scripts and palaeography
  • Colette Sirat, Hebrew manuscripts of the Middle Ages (Cambridge 2002)

Continents and countries

Latin America

Argentina

  • Neografia, Victor Hugo Arévalo Jordán – a concise introduction to colonial palaeography, part of his online Curso de paleografia hispaoamericano with documents from Santa Fé in Argentina
  • Introducción a la paleografía. Herramientas para la lectura y análisis de documentos antiguos, Rosana Laura Vassallo (ed.) (La Plata 2019; online, PDF, 24 MB) – a volume of essays introducing scripts in medieval Spain and Early Modern Latin-America, with attention to archival records in Argentina

Brazil

  • Noções de Paleografia: Uma Breve Introdução, Joaquim Roberto Fagundes, Arquivos e Fontes Primárias – a forty-page introduction to Brazilian palaeography (PDF)
  • Ubirajara Dolácio Mendes, Noções de Paleografia (São Paulo 1953; PDF, 4 MB)
  • Maria Helena Flexor, Noções de paleografia (Bahia 1970; PDF, 10 MB – this leaflet contains mainly a list of abbrevations
  • Paleografia y suas interfaces, Alicia Duhá Lose and Arivaldo Sacramento de Souza (eds.) (Salvador 2018; PDF, 13 MB) – a volume with essays on various aspects of palaeography; note the contribution by Maria Helena Ochi Flexor on abbreviations, ‘Abreviaturas de manuscritos dos séculos XVI ao XX’, pp. 195-211
  • Maria das Graças Telles Sobral, Abreviaturas: uso e função nos manuscritos (M.Litt. thesis, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, 2007; PDF, 2 MB)

Roberto Jorge Chaves Araujo published transcription guidelines, As Normas Técnicas para Transcricão e Edição de Documentos Manuscritos e Alguns Fatos Gráficos da história da escrita nelas normalizados (PDF; 1,7 MB).

Haiti and Dominican Republic

Mexico

  • Amoxcalli, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) and Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fondo Mexicano – a portal with images of manuscripts with indigenous texts (codices), mainly in Nahuatl, and Early Modern manuscripts and archival records (manuscritos) with also texts in Spanish scripts (Spanish and Latin), viewable with and without transcription and/or commentary – there is an accompanying blog
  • Taller Elementos básicos de paleografia novohispana y mexicana, Documentos antiguos de Iztapalapan, Juan Gerardo López – a concise tutorial
  • Principios basicos de la paleografia, José Félix Alonso Gutiérrez del Olmo – although concise it contains also norms for transcription and a very useful glossary (PDF, 2015)
  • Codex Mendoza, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Ciudad de México and Bodleian Libraries, Oxford – a digitized version of a sixteenth-century manuscript [ms. Arch. Selden 1] about the Aztec kingdom, with transcriptions, bibliography and much more; interface Spanish and English
  • Jorge Nuñéz Chávez, Práctica de la paleografía en la era digital (Ciudad de México, 2020) – online, ADABI (PDF, 4.3 MB) – with attention to the development of this science, note the pages about transcription rules and old measures

Puerto Rico

You can benefit from the online version of Jesus Muñoz y Rivero’s Manual de paleografia diplomatica española de los siglos XII al XVII (Madrid 1880; second edition, 1917) and Margaret Dunaway, Palaeographical and ortographical characteristics of certain sixteenth-century Spanish-American letters (M.A. thesis, Rice University, Houston, 1989).

At the Biblioteca Digital del Pensamiento Novohispano is an Índice de abreviaturas, and also Criterios de la transcripción paleográfica de los textos.

Here below you will find websites for and mostly from individual countries

Australia

Austria

  • Erste Schritte im Kurrent-Lesen, Geschichte Online, Wissenschaftliches arbeiten, Universität Wien – a concise tutorial on reading the Kurrentschrift in archival sources from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and also exercises with archival records from the fifteenth to the twentieth century
  • GenKurrent – a commercial tutorial for scripts such as the Kurrentschrift; interface German and English; the site seems no longer active

Belgium and the Netherlands

  • Transcriberen van Middelnederlandse teksten [Transcribing Middle Dutch texts], Hans Kienhorst and Mikel Kors, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen – this tutorial focuses on manuscripts with literary texts in Middle Dutch
  • Zelf Middeleeuws schrift lezen [Reading medieval script yourself], Frits van Oostrom, Universiteit Utrecht – nearly twenty examples of manuscripts with medieval Dutch literary texts and transcriptions
  • Middeleeuwse paleografie, Universiteit Leiden – fifteen exercises with Late Medieval handwriting in archival records
  • Iter Dig-italicum, een digitale reis door Leuvense handschriften [Iter Dig-italicum. A digital journey through manuscripts at Leuven], Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leuven – a fine tutorial at Louvain with a wide variety of manuscript images from the medieval and Early Modern period, with Coptic and Arabic manuscripts, and also examples of sixteenth-century letters, a bibliography, a good links section and an overview of transcription rules
  • Transcriptiehandleiding [Guide for transcribing], Cartago – on this platform with digitized editions of medieval charters from Frisia, Groningen and Drenthe you can benefit from this guide for transcribing Middle Low German and Latin texts; a version in German is not yet present
  • Wat Staat Daer? [What’s That?] – an online tutorial and forum created by three archives in the Dutch province Noord-Brabant, joined for example by Utrecht (Het Utrechts Archief), Middelburg (Zeeuws Archief) and Haarlem (Noord-Hollands Archief) and some regional archives, and with even some Flemish archives (Bruges, Hasselt and Kortrijk)  in particular for Early Modern archival records
  • Paleografie, Geneaknowhow.Net, Hein Vera and Herman de Wit – a downloadable tutorial, with a bibliography
  • Haagse handschriften [Manuscripts at The Hague] – an offer for courses at the municipal archives of The Hague with a sixteenth-century register of sentences in criminal cases, and lots of useful information about Dutch history and paleography and the history of The Hague
  • Hendrick Hamel’s journal and the description of Korea in the 17th century, Henny Savenije – Savenije shows transcriptions below each text line, and he provides a word-to-word translation
  • Letters en woorden in 19e-eeuws handschrift [Letter forms and words in nineteenth-century Dutch script] – a PDF for the project around the slavery registers of Suriname, originating from the crowdsourcing Vele Handen project [Many Hands], more specifically for transcribing military registers and registers of causes of death in Amsterdam; Vele Handen offered also a PDF (version at Delpher) of W. Bogtman, Het Nederlandsche schrift in 1600 (Haarlem 1933, reprint 1973)
  • 17th Century Dutch, Julie van den Hout – at last a blog in English about this phase of the Dutch language and a section on palaeography with some exercises and a PDF of W. Bogtman, Het Nederlandsche schrift in 1600 (Haarlem 1973)
  • T. Mooyer, Inleiding cursus paleografie (Alkmaar: Regionaal Archief Alkmaar, 2008) – a concise introduction to palaeography and the history of scripts (PDF)
  • Transcriptieregels en afkortingen, Gekaapte brieven – transcription rules and a list of seventeenth-century abbreviations for a project with looted letters, see below

For editing historical sources Dutch historians have created guidelines in the Richtlijnen voor het uitgeven van historische bescheiden (6th ed., The Hague 1988; online, Huygens Institute). For Belgian historians the Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis / Commission royale d’Histoire offers the Normes d’édition / Uitgaveregels (version 2016; Dutch and French). A concise explanation of transcription rules is present at the website of the project Gekaapte brieven (Looted letters).

You can encounter several forms of Dutch handwriting for example at the documentary portals for the painters Jeroen Bosch and Rembrandt van Rijn, BoschDoc (interface Dutch, English and Spanish) and RemDoc – Rembrandt Documentation (English interface), with often not only transcriptions but also images of original documents and English translations and commentaries. The projects Gekaapte brieven with transcription rules and a list of abbreviations, Brieven als Buit [Letters as booty] (with English introductions), Zeeuwpost [Post from Zeeland] and Dutch Prize Papers show images and transcriptions of letters and other documents captured from Dutch ships during wars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries found in the collections of the High Court of Admiralty, kept at the National Archives, Kew. These resources are also used in the projects MarineLives (London) and The Prize Papers Project (Göttingen, Oldenburg and London) with its offspring Prize Papers Materiality.

For matters touching chronology you can use the online version of E. Strubbe and L. Voet, De chronologie van de Middeleeuwen en de moderne tijden (Brussels 1960, reprint with corrigenda, 1991; online, Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis / Commission Royale d’Histoire (PDF)). Online dictionaries for Dutch and Frisian, also in historical times, can be found at Historische woordenboeken. Succinct explanations of old (legal) Dutch words can be found in the PDF Vreemde woorden in archieven created by the Groninger Archieven. The books by Annet de Korne and Tineke Rinkel, Cursus zestiende- en zeventiende-eeuws Nederlands (Groningen 1987, online, DBNL) and L. Koelmans, Inleiding tot het lezen van zeventiende-eeuwse Nederlands (1978; online, DBNL) can be helpful, as is also the VOC-glossarium (Huygens Instituut, 2000, online, also as PDF) for maritime subjects, and for military matters J.R. Verbeek, Vocabulaire van het VOC-artilleriewezen en de wapenkamer 1602-1796 (2021; online, PDF).

The Transkribus team offers since December 2021 a free online interface for computerized transcribing of seventeenth-century Dutch texts. This can help you to make at least a start to understand such texts, even when control and editing remain necessary. For Dutch palaeography and other languages now even supermodels have been developed, such as The Dutchess.

Canada

China

Croatia

  • Croatian Glagolitic Script, Darko Zubrinic – a web page on the history of the Croatian version of this script used in parts of Eastern Europe, with alphabets and links to other relevant websites

Czech Republic

  • Hana Patkova, Latin palaeography in Central Europe, Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts – an introduction (PDF) to manuscripts and charters in medieval Bohemia
  • Dalibor Havel and Helena Krmickova, Paleografická cítanka. Literárni texty [Paleographic exercises: Literary texts] (Brno 2014) – a manual (PDF) for Czech medieval palaeography
  • Čítanka starých textů [Exercises with old texts], Genebáze – twelve examples of Early Modern and nineteenth-century scripts on a genealogical website
  • Paleografická cítanka, Zdenka Hledikova and Jaroslav Kaspar, Charles University, Prague – exercises in Czech palaeography with manuscripts and archival records from the eleventh to the late nineteenth century; needs DjVU plugin
  • Interaktivní paleografická čítanka, Petra Vorla, Univerzity Pardubice – online exercises with several types of Early Modern archival records

Denmark

France

  • La paléographie, FranceArchives – a concise guide to French palaeography, with links to courses and online tutorials created by regional archives, and more useful resources
  • Paléographie médiévale, Dominique Stutzmann – an online course with medieval documents
  • Album interactif de paléographie médiévale, Université Lyon/CNRS – one of the earliest interactive tutorials online; sources in Latin, French and Italian (just one example), ninth to fifteenth century; interface French and English
  • French Renaissance Paleography, The Newberry Library, Chicago and University of Toronto – for archival records and manuscripts from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, with a very full list of French abbreviations, a bibliography and many other resources, for example calligraphy books
  • Cours de paléographie, Stéphane Pouyllau and Eric Camille Voirin – an online tutorial with Early Modern documents
  • Paléographie en ligne, Baptiste Etienne and Jean-François Viel – an online tutorial, partially free accessible, with an accompanying blog
  • Paléographie en ligne: Textes de paléographie transcrits et commentés, Archives Départementales de la Haute Garonne, Toulouse – three Early Modern documents with transcription, including the famous verdict by the Parlement de Toulouse on Martin Guerre (1560)
  • Exercises de paléographie, Archives Départementales de Loire-Atlantique, Nantes – with fourteen exercises from the late fifteenth to the mid-eighteenth century
  • Cours de paléographie, Archives Départementales de la Haute-Loire, Le Puy-en-Velay – with some 60 documents mainly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (images and trancriptions)
  • La paléographie, Archives Départementales d’Herault, Montpellier – with exercises on basic and advanced levels, a concise bibliography and transcription guidelines
  • Paléographie, Archives Départementales de Côte-d’Or, Dijon – materials on three levels, with also the manual by Gérard Moyse and Pierre Bernardin, Lire les archives des XVIe et XVIIe siècles (Vésoul 1991)
  • Abrévations paléographiques, IRHT, Paris and Orleans – a blog post with a concise but useful guide to abbrevations in archival documents from France

Ad Fontes has created a PDF with guidelines for transcriptions, Critères d’édition.

Germany

  • Paläographie Online, Peter Orth (Universität Erlangen) and Georg Vogeler (LMU, Munich) – in particular medieval sources
  • Digitale Schriftkunde, Generaldirektion der Staatlichen Archiven Bayern – an online tutorial with examples of archival records in Bavaria from the eighth to the twentieth century
  • Schriftbeispiele, Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin-Dahlem – some examples of handwriting from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, with commentaries; you can benefit also from the introductions to German bureaucracy (Aktenkunde) by Jürgen Kloosterhuis, Amtliche Aktenkunde der Neuzeit. Ein hilfswissenschaftliches Kompendium
  • Kurs: Paläographie, Wikiversity – an online tutorial with only three texts, but with much information, guidance, bibliographical information and links
  • Lesehilfen für die alte deutsche Schrift, Hessisches Landesarchiv – not an online tutorial, but nevertheless eight PDF’s for Early Modern palaeography with reading tips, charts with letterforms, and an overview of eighteenth-century scripts, mainly taken from Hellmut Gutzwiller, ‘Die Entwicklung der Schrift in der Neuzeit’, Archiv für Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte, Siegel- und Wappenkunde 38 (1992) 434-449; on the page Leseübungen you will find PDF’s with examples of documents from the nineteenth and twentieth century
  • Hans Wilhelm Eckardt, Gabriele Stüber and Thomas Trumpp, “Thun kund und zu wissen jedermänniglich”. Paläographie – Archivalische Textsorten – Aktenkunde (Cologne 1999, Archivhefte, 32; online, Archive im Rheinland (PDF)) – a German manual for archival theory and the palaeography of archival records
  • Über die Kurrentschrift, Archivführer Deutsche Kolonialgeschichte, Fachhochschule Potsdam – a concise introduction to Kurrentschrift, in a German, English and French version, with even a special typewriter, the Kurrentschreibmaschine
  • Sütterlinschrift lesen / Frakturschrift lesen – with examples from various kind of records and books; interface German, English and French
  • Deutsche Paläographie des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, Benoit Vaillot – a useful blog with exercises for Fraktur, Kurrentschrift and Sütterlin; interface German, English and French
  • Kurrentschrift – this tutorial for German cursive scripts uses famous poems in its exercises
  • Kurrentschrift Schreiblehrgang. Margarete Mucke – with documents written by famous Germans
  • Alphabete deutscher Schriften, Bibliothek für Bildungsgeschichtliche Forschung, Berlin – not just alphabets, but also exercises and example texts for Fraktur, Sütterlin and Kurrentschrift

The Archivschule Marburg has a web page with transcription rules, Transkriptionrsichtlinie. You might also read online Johannes Schultze, ‘Richtlinien für die äußere Textgestaltung bei Herausgabe von Quellen zur neueren deutschen Geschichte’Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 98 (1962) 1-11, or the recent manual by Burkhard Beyer, Praktische Tipps für die Edition landesgeschichtlicher Quellen (Münster 2018) (PDF). At the blog Aktenkunde you can find information about palaeography and the history of German administration, with a useful bibliography. The Staatsbibliothek Bamberg has digitized eight Early Modern calligraphy manuals.

Iceland

  • Handritin heima – a website concerning medieval Icelandic literature, manuscripts and script with a tutorial; interface Icelandic, Swedish, Danish and German

Ad Fontes offers special transcription rules for Nordistik (PDF).

Indonesia

  • Karel Holle, Tabel van oud en nieuw-Indische alphabetten (Buitenzorg 1877) – a classic introduction; online, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; English version: ‘Table of Old and New Indic Alphabets: Contribution to the Paleography of the Dutch Indies’, Written Language and Literacy 2/2 (1999) 167-245
  • J.G. de Casparis, Indonesian Palaeography. A history of writing in Indonesia from the beginning to c. AD 1500 (Leiden-Cologne 1975; online, Google)

Ireland

  • Irish Script on Screen, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – not an online tutorial, but a most useful collection of scripts in medieval manuscripts
  • Ogham in 3D, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – a website about the inscriptions in Ogham script
  • Irish Palaeography: Sample pages from Irish manuscripts, University College Cork – examples of Irish manuscripts with Gaelic script from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and a list of common abbreviations
  • Paleography Primer and Quiz, Léamh: Learn Early Modern Irish – a tutorial at a portal for Early Modern Irish
  • Tionscadal na Nod, CODECS – the section for medieval scribal abbreviations of this great portal for Celtic and Irish studies

Italy

You can download an Italian manual for transcribing and editing medieval texts at the Archivio di Stato di Lucca: Giampaolo Tognetti (ed.), Criteri per la trascrizione di testi medievali latini e italiani (Rome 1982; PDF, 5 MB). The introduction to Latin palaeography by G. Costamagna, Perchè scriviamo così. Invito alla paleografia latina (Rome 1987) is available online (PDF’s).

Japan

  • James Harry Morris, ‘Digital resources for Japanese palaeography’, The Digital Orientalist – a guide to several online tutorials, guides and websites with resources concerning Japanese scripts
  • Komonjo, Princeton University – a website with images, translations and commentaries for seven sets with these documents from (late) medieval Japan

Norway

  • Lars Svensson, Nordisk paleografi. Handbok med transkiberade och komentarede skriftprob [Scandinavian paleography. Handbook with commented reading exercises] (Lund 1974) – a digitized book (PDF; Lund University) – for sources from Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden
  • Knut Geelmuyden, Gotisk skrift. En kort veileding i lesing av gamle kilder [Gothic script. A short introduction to reading old sources] Bergen 2015; online, PDF), Bergen Byarchiv – a tutorial from the municipal archive in Bergen
  • On-line kurs in gotisk handskrift, Historisk institutt, Universitetet i Bergen and Statsarkivet i Bergen – registration necessary for saving your results, but you can freely access the alphabets, the help section and a useful dictionary (ordbok) of Old Danish
  • Faksimilar, Handbok i nørron filologi – a choice of images from medieval Nordic manuscripts

Poland

  • Dawne Pismo (Old handwriting), Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie (State Archives Cracow) – with examples of archival records from the Middle Ages to modern times, you can also play games or workout puzzles; interface Polish, English and German
  • Lublin w dokumencie [Lublin in documents), Archivum Panstwowe i Lublinie (State Archives Lublin) – with archival records created between 1300 and 1600; interface Polish
  • Neografia, Rotulus / Kurrenta – attention to German script and archival records on this website about archives, archiving and historical sources; interface Polish
  • In nomine Domini. Nauka paleografii lacinskiej, Magdalena Biniaś-Szkopek, Poznan University – a tutorial with archival documents from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century held at the Poznan State Archive

Portugal

Spain

  • Scriptorium, Contra Taedium, Universitat de Barcelona – a tutorial in Catalan for medieval sources from Spain
  • Deciphering Secrets: Unlocking the manuscripts of medieval Spain – a crowdsourcing project to read and decipher medieval (legal) manuscripts from and about Plasencia, Burgos and Toledo, with tutorials after registration; see also the main project, University of Colorado
  • Spanish Palaeography, Dominican Studies Institute, City University of New York – sources from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, with much attention to colonial documents; interface Spanish and English
  • Paleoteca: Espacio virtual con juegos de paleografia, Leonor Zozoya-Montes – playful exercises in Spanish palaeography, see also her paleography blog with a very good repertory of resources
  • Abreviaturas, Real Academia Española – a useful list of abbreviations as an appendix to several Spanish dictionaries
  • Laminario de documentos de Toledo con sus transcripciones, Archivo Municipal de Toledo – a selection of archival records from 1289 until 1940 with transcriptions
  • Laminas de la catedra de paleografía y diplomatica (Madrid: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, 2006) – a paleographical atlas with images and transcriptions of documents and scripts from the medieval and Early Modern period
  • Zacarias Garcia Villada, Paleografía española (2 vol., Madrid 1923) – online, Biblioteca Digital de Castilla y León
  • Filemón Arribas Arranz, Paleografía documental hispánica (2 vol., Valladolid, 1965) – online, PDF’s, Biblioteca Digital de Castilla y León
  • Juan-José Marcos, Fuentes para la paleografia latina. Manual del usuario (5th ed., Plasencia 2007) – a PDF version of a guide to medieval palaeography; there is also a version in English
  • Manuel Joaquín Salamanca López and Francisco Antonio Chacón Gómez-Monedero, La escritura documental en un cabildo catedralizio (ss. XV-XVIII) (Ciudad de México 2018) – a study of writing and documents held at the cathedral of Cuenca, with images and transcriptions of some ninety documents; PDF, 6,5 MB; Archivo General de la Nacion
  • Charles Upson Clark, Collectanea Hispanica (Paris 1920; online, Internet Archive) – a manual in French for the palaeography of Visigothic scripts

Sweden

  • Paleografi, Universitetsbiblioteket Lund – a very concise but useful tutorial for reading Early Modern archival records
  • Patrik Åström, Paleografi: introduktion till den svenska latinskriftens historia (2010; PDF) – not an online course, but certainly a useful concise introduction
  • Läshjhälp, Hallands Släktforskarförening – with examples from Early Modern church registers and Danish handwriting between 1635 and 1645
  • Lär dig läsa frakturstil, övningar, Heiko Droste, Stads- och kommunhistoriska institutet, Stockholm – a concise introduction to scripts such as the Frakturskrift, Sütterlin and Latin scripts
  • 41 Handskrifter 1339-1926 – a subscription tutorial with 41 examples of handwriting in archival records from the Landsarkivet i Göteborg, there is also a CD-ROM
  • Lars Bägerfeldt, Bokstäver & gamla handskrifter. Att läsa handskrifter från Vasatiden och Stormaktstiden samt tidiga kyrkoböcker [Letterfroms and old manuscripts. Reading manuscripts from the Wasa Age and the Great Age and church registers] (Falköping 2011; PDF, 55 MB) – after a survey of writing history follows a very practical introduction for reading and understanding Early Modern records from Sweden

Switzerland

  • Gerold Ritter, Lector. Transkription von mittelalterlichen Quellentexten computergestützt üben [Lector. Computer-aided training for transcribing medieval source texts] (MA thesis, Universität Zurich, 1992) – not only medieval but also Early Modern texts in this concise tutorial for Swiss palaeography
  • Schriftgeschichte, Martin Steinmann, Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz – a concise overview of the history of writing in Switzerland, with some references; also available in French and Italian, and downloadable (PDF)
  • Transkriptionen, Villmergerkriege 1656 und 1712 – a number of transcriptions concerning two wars, but also some medieval and much later archival records with transcriptions

United Kingdom

Some project focus on resources from Scotland:

United States of America