Tuesday, June 09, 2015


On May 28 I wrote a blog post that included Kevin Duffus' photograph of a letter written in 1719.

Photo by Kevin Duffus

A reader commented on the lovely handwriting. And that reminded me of my great-grandfather's nineteenth century shipwreck reports. James Howard's penmanship is not as beautiful as Ellis Brand's, and his spelling and grammar are unconventional by today's standards (spide, redeness, flud, etc.), but his handwriting was superior to most of ours today.   

Capt. James W. Howard's Report

What a difference a few generations make! I seldom write letters, and my handwriting is a blend of printing and cursive. School children today are not even taught penmanship or cursive writing. All the more reason to treasure these letters and reports from the past.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Part II of Crystal Canterbury's account of her first visit to Portsmouth Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052115.htm.


  1. Anonymous1:13 PM

    North Carolina public school students do learn cursive writing. It was added back into the curriculum in 2013 after being taken out in 2010. http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/languagearts/scos/

    1. Thanks anon
      I am so glad to hear that.
      I can't imagine why it was taken out
      But I have no trouble at all imagining the reason for putting it back

  2. Anonymous7:49 AM

    Excuse me , but violin and piano lessons are not taught in the classroom but parents concerned Pay for music lessons. Handwriting lessons paid hand writing lessons could be a booming business.....or you can bet home schooled students had the best hand writing vs public school children thus the reconsideration of cursive hand writing being re introduced. Honestly, think about it, tests are graded by a computer, answers are bubbled in on a answer card, teachers don't spend hours plodding through the scribble of answers to poorly worded tests. Now with texting chipping away at the foundations of handwriting Effort, personal effort is to be garnered to stem the tide. Recently a teenager testified at a trial and was asked to read a letter hand written in cursive and she could not. She an immigrant from a foreign country could not read the letter hand written in English. She was a product of a Florida public school though. I claim that, I am the product of the Dade County school system and people say how do you remember this or that well I find most things interesting but listening , paying attention, concentrating, observing and forming opinions Goes A long way!! LOL

  3. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Colleges have moved away from the SAT and ACT they ask for a Handwritten essay. How powerful is that, the ability to sit down and collect your thoughts and express yourself Extemporaneously!