Practical Paleography is an informal series of ten paleography sessions meeting every two weeks. Series One ran from November 2014 through March 2015. It is currently in its fourth series. These sessions are sponsored by Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) for the staff and readers of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Each session will focus on transcription and mark-up (i.e. XML encoding) of a few 16th and/or 17th century manuscript pages from the Folger collection – announcements with information about particular manuscripts to be transcribed will appear a week or so before each session.
No experience or registration is required, and you can attend as many or as few sessions as you like. Short handouts will be provided, and full transcriptions of the manuscripts we examine will appear here on this Folgerpedia page following the session. You may want to bring a laptop to try your own transcriptions or take notes.
Here's a link to some introductory pages on the early modern alphabet and common abbreviations: Alphabet Book.
We are particularly eager to work on manuscripts suggested by participating staff and readers. If you have a manuscript page or two that you would like to have the group examine, please contact Heather Wolfe, Paul Dingman or Sarah Powell in advance of the session(s) you’d like to attend.
This initial series of Practical Paleography has concluded; it ran every other Tuesday from November 18 2014 until March 24 2015 in the Board Room, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM, right after tea. The second series of Practical Paleography has concluded; it ran every other Tuesday from May 5 2015 until September 8 2015. The third series of Practical Paleography has concluded; it ran every other Tuesday from Oct 20 2015 until March 8 2016. See manuscript details about individual sessions below and transcriptions. Practical Paleography Series Four begins October 25th 2016 in the Board Room, 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM. It will run for ten sessions.
Practical Paleography Series Four
Oct 25 2016
The first of ten sessions in the fourth series of Practical Paleography. Curator of Manuscripts Dr Heather Wolfe & EMMO Paleographer Sarah Powell will be on hand to lead the group in transcribing a bargain and sale (L.b.356) from the Loseley Collection, specifically one involving the sale of seven upper rooms to James Burbage. These rooms would become the famous Blackfriars Theatre. The session will start with Dr Heather Wolfe's introducing to the early modern alphabet.
- L.b.356 - More, Sir William. Bargain and sale of seven upper rooms in the Blackfriars to James Burbage ⇒ Transcription
Nov 8 2016
Dr Heather Wolfe will give a brief review of the early modern alphabet and common abbreviations. In the first half of the session the group will transcribe more from L.b.356 (see October 25th session). In the second half of the hour Dr Hillary Nunn will give a short introduction to Lady Grace Castleton's booke of receipts from which the PracPaleo group will transcribe a seventeenth-century recipe for chocolate cream! EMMO Paleographer Sarah Powell will transcribe & tag this transcription on site using Dromio, the Folger's online transcription tool. This special session will serve as a preparation for the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC) "transcribathon" at the Folger on Wednesday, November 9th.
Nov 22 2016
In the third session of Practical Paleography we will transcribe L.a.190, from the Papers of the Bagot Family collection. The group will practice writing their own early modern alphabets by copying letters from the manuscript. Dr Heather Wolfe will also explain early modern letter folding, using a letter from Burghley to Effingham during the time of the Spanish Armada, as an example. All are welcome.
- L.a.190 - To Richard Bagot, Langley
Dec 6 2016
This special session of Practical Paleography will be a "Paleography Pub Night" from 5.00 - 7.00pm in the Foulke Conference Room, in tandem with the Folger Institute's Advanced Early Modern English Paleography lead by Dr Heather Wolfe. We will transcribe recipes for wine & ale over pizza & beer!
Dec 20 2016
In the fifth session of Practical Paleography Dr Heather Wolfe & Dr Owen Williams will lead the group in transcribing a page of J.b.3, the Women's Prize. We will use Dromio, the Folger's online transcription tool.
Practical Paleography Series Three
Oct 20 2015
The first of ten sessions in the third series of Practical Paleography. A brief explanation of secretary hand and Dromio, the Folger's online transcription-collation tool. Then a look at V.a.307, a poetical and prose miscellany. People will be encouraged to participate remotely and the manuscript will stay open and accessible to the Folger's paleography community for remote transcription after the end of Tuesday's session.
Nov 3 2015
A further look at V.a.307, a poetical and prose miscellany. We will transcribe 29v and 31 in the session. People will be encouraged to participate remotely to transcribe the subsequent pages. The manuscript will stay open and accessible to the Folger's paleography community for remote transcription after the end of Tuesday's session.
Nov 17 2015
Continuing with our target to transcribe V.a.307, a poetical and prose miscellany. We will transcribe 30 and 29 in the session. People will be encouraged to participate remotely to transcribe the subsequent pages. The manuscript will stay open and accessible to the Folger's paleography community for remote transcription after the end of Tuesday's session.
Dec 1 2015
A further look at V.a.307, a poetical and prose miscellany. We will transcribe 86 in the session. People will be encouraged to participate remotely to transcribe the subsequent pages. The manuscript will stay open and accessible to the Folger's paleography community for remote transcription after the end of Tuesday's session.
Dec 15 2015
A special Practical Paleography evening session today: 'Transcription Night 2' will take place at the Big Board, H street, DC. From 5.30pm - 7.30pm we will be transcribing selections from different manuscripts with pitchers of beer as prizes! Come join us!
Jan 12 2016
We will use Dromio, the Folger's online transcription-collation too to transcribe part of X.d.428 in the session. People are encouraged to participate remotely, if they wish.
Jan 26 2016
Session did not take place. The Folger was closed due to a winter storm.
Feb 9 2016
We will transcribe one page in V.a.307, a poetical and prose miscellany, and a section of an early modern newsletter. Newcomers are welcome and no registration is required.
Feb 23 2016
We will transcribe and tag some mid-seventeenth-century letters in this session as part of a special request by Dr. Patrick Tuite of the Department of Drama at Catholic University of America. Dr. Tuite supplied the images and will be joining us for the session. He is working on letters by Arthur Bennet (Earl of Arlington) and Captain Bartlett (who ran the packets sent between Dublin and Holyhead) for an upcoming paper.
Mar 8 2016
We will transcribe and tag a mid-seventeenth-century letter in this session as part of a special request by Dr. Patrick Tuite of the Department of Drama at Catholic University of America. Dr. Tuite supplied the image and will be joining us for the session. He is working on letters by Arthur Bennet (Earl of Arlington) and Captain Bartlett (who ran the packets sent between Dublin and Holyhead) for an upcoming paper. In addition we will transcribe one page in V.a.307, a poetical and prose miscellany, and a section of an early modern newsletter. Newcomers are welcome and no registration is required.
Practical Paleography Series Two
May 5 2015
The first of ten sessions in the second series of Practical Paleography running through summer 2015. A brief explanation of secretary hand, minuscule and majuscule letter forms and some common abbreviations (eg. which, with, you, your, the, that). Then a look at two interesting family letters, one from the Papers of the Bagot family and the other from the Bacon-Townshend collection.
May 19 2015
A recap of how to use dromio, the Folger's online transcription-collation tool, including a brief overview of its tag set. Then an opportunity to transcribe L.a.63, a letter from Walter Bagot's eldest son Lewis to his father. Lewis is writing from commons [at one of the Inns of Court]. He mentions The Kynnersley-Trew case, being followed hard by Sir Walter Chetwynd and Mr. Wolseley (Wouslye).
June 2 2015
An examination of numbers, both Arabic and Roman. Also covered will be days, dates and Regnal years (including how to modernize dates), with worksheets providing examples.
June 16 2015
A look at a probate copy of the will of Edward Grant dated April 25th, St Mark's day, 1601. After declaring himself sound in mind and perfect in memory Grant goes on to bequeath a house lease, goods and money to his wife and children. He leaves money to the poor of Toppsfield and Barnet and a copy of Ortelius' book of maps to Westminster's College Library. Not forgetting his friends, he leaves a little silver cup to his affectionate friend Mr Samuel Haslewood.
June 30 2015
Latin Part I: A look at some Latin snippets taken from the Folger's manuscript collection, including lines copied from Virgil's Aeneid and Eclogues and Ovid's Metamorphoses, Tristia and Heroides. There will be an opportunity to transcribe and translate Latin into English.
July 14 2015
Latin Part II: A further look at Latin taken from the Folger's manuscript collection, including Latin snippets from the Macro Plays: Castle of Perseverance [ca.1440], Henry Oxinden's miscellany [ca.1642-1670], Letter from John Parker at Dublin Castle to Thadeus O'Carroll , Letter from Harvey Bagot at Oxford to his father Walter Bagot , The Smith family miscellany [ca.1620-1655] and annotations by Gabriel Harvey in Facetie, motti, et burle di diversi signori et persone privat [1580-1608]. There will also be an opportunity to use dromio, the Folger's online transcription tool, to transcribe and tag a Latin excerpt from V.b.26, Book of magic, [ca.1577-1583].
July 28 2015
An opportunity to transcribe an interesting page written in English secretary hand from the Diaries of Richard Stonley, 1581-1598, including Latin citations from Book 3 of Cato's distichs on the need to balance work with pleasure. There will be a further opportunity to compare these transcriptions at the end of the session, using dromio, the Folger's online transcription-collation tool.
August 11 2015
A look at drama in manuscript form, using the seventeenth-century play The Inconstant Lady. Transcriptions will be collated and compared at the end of the session.
August 26 2015
An opportunity to transcribe two pages from the Commonplace book of Matthew Day ca.1650 using Dromio, the Folger's online transcription-collation tool. Transcriptions will also vetted in the latter part of the session.
September 8 2015
A look at a page on Italy and the Medicis of Florence, taken from Edmund Tilney's Topographical Descriptions, Regiments and Policies. Transcriptions will be collated at the end of the session to produce a final version, using dromio, the Folger's online transcription-collation tool.
Practical Paleography Series One
Nov. 18 2014
Brief introduction to secretary hand and common abbreviations. Intriguing recipes from the following manuscript collections:
- V.a.430 – Cookery and medicinal recipes of the Granville family ⇒ Transcriptions
- V.b.301 – Cookbook of Grace Blome ⇒ Transcriptions
Dec. 2 2014
Quick review of alphabet then a look at some interesting letters from the following manuscript:
- X.c.61 – Papers of the Rattray family of Craighall ⇒ Transcriptions
- X.c.61 (119) – Letter from John Ogilvy of Balfour to James Rattray of Craighall, 1674 September 9 ⇒ Transcription
- X.c.61 (137) – Letter from John Ogilvy of Balfour to James Rattray of Craighall 1677 April ⇒Transcription
Dec. 16 2015
Further examination of secretary hand and review of alphabet before working with a volume of a poetical miscellany:
Dec. 30 2015
A very brief review of the alphabet and some of the common abbreviations used in secretary hand and then a look at two letters with seasonal references from the Papers of the Bagot Family⇒ Transcriptions
- L.a.156 – Letter from Walter Bagot to an unnamed knight ⇒ Transcription
- L.a.176 – Letter from William Bagot (Walter's son), Oxford, to Walter Bagot, 1619 November 7 ⇒ Transcription
Jan. 13 2015
Introduction to Dromio, the Folger's online transcription/collation tool, and semi-diplomatic conventions and then a chance to practice both transcribing and encoding secretary hand with some poetry from a volume of poetical miscellany :
Jan. 27 2015
A quick refresher on the use of Dromio and conventions of semi-diplomatic transcription, and then practice transcribing a mixed secretary/italic hand with a newsletter about some maritime matters:
Feb. 10 2015
An introduction into the way numbers were written in manuscripts of the time, and then an opportunity to transcribe some interesting lists of items (with numbers) in :
Feb. 24 2015
An educational experience with quill pens, iron gall ink, and rag paper followed by a turn at transcribing an early modern recipe for black ink.
A quick review of numbers and then a more specific look at how numbers are used in references to money in early modern manuscripts. Several examples of amounts will be shown in snippets from the Bacon-Townshend collection, then a transcription of a bill/receipt to Lady Stanhope.
Mar. 24 2015
A brief review of features in Dromio and then a chance to transcribe some chivalric romance, specifically a few pages about the adventures of St. Denis and his horse from V.a.139 – Gawdy Brampton's rhyming version of Richard Johnson's very popular literary work.