Thursday, July 17, 2008

Indexing Tips: The Palmer Method in New York City Schools

To the young person attempting to read cursive handwriting for the very first time, or after only a brief study in school, indexing cursive documents can be difficult. In this and other articles, I present styles of different time periods.

The Palmer Method was developed by Austin Norman Palmer around 1888 and was introduced in the 1894 book Palmer's Guide to Business Writing.

    Graded Movement Writing for Beginners

    In 1904 an associate superintendent for New York City saw Palmer's method demonstrated and in 1905 it was listed for use in New York City schools. In 1910 a New York City School superintendent, Joseph S. Taylor, and writing teacher, Margaret M. Hughes, authored a penmanship teaching manual titled Graded Movement Writing for Beginners. If I'm not mistaken, the method taught is Palmer's. However, while Palmer was liberal in his allowance of letter forms, Graded Movement specified the proper form to use for each letter. The choice bears strong similarities to Harcourt-Brace, but lacks the leading upstrokes of B, P and R. F and T have full upper-vertical strokes. The descender of p lacks the loop used in Harcourt and other descenders. Lowercase r uses the classic Palmer r.

    Script from Graded Movement Writing for Beginners, 1910.  
    Script from Graded Movement Writing for Beginners, 1910.

    Alphabet charts can be seen on these pages.

    Sources:

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