Teaching Paleography Resources

These resources for teaching paleography grew out of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported workshop directed by Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts, Associate Librarian for Audience Development, and long-time trainer of paleographers at the Folger Shakespeare Library, from 27-29 August 2019. That workshop's participants, listed below with their current affiliations at the time of the workshop, brought many different perspectives to bear on their shared approaches to teaching early modern handwriting. They applied lessons learned at an earlier workshop and a conference associated with the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) project to create and compile methods and templates for paleographic instruction a variety of settings and with both physical manuscripts and digital facsimiles.

Assignments and Worksheets

The participants offered a number of ways to teach paleography, many of which are classroom tested.

Basic toolkit for teaching paleography [link coming]

Game Scenarios

The participants created three scenarios during the workshop, complete with materials.

Overarching rationale for gamifying paleography [link coming]

Escaping the Plague in 1600 London [link coming]

The Ghost of Blithfield Hall [link coming]

The Adventure of the Lost Letter, or, the Postboy's Bag [link coming]

Tips and Techniques

writing with quills day:

quills: available through https://motoscribendi.com/ or http://dennisruud.com/quill-pens/

paper: available through https://book.grad.uiowa.edu/store/handmade-paper/chancery (make sure they know it is for handwriting and not printing)

iron gall ink: you can make your own by ordering ingredients from Kremer Pigments (or elsewhere), or find iron gall ink pre-made on Etsy or Amazon:

other supplies: writing supports so you can write at 45 degree angle (you can use library book cradles with stiff board on top); spice or coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and sack (so the items don't jump out of the mortar), small scale. IMPORTANT: if you are using a recipe from a recipe book, make sure to greatly reduce the volume! Plan ahead if you want your ink to sit in the sun or to be heated and cooled.


Morgan Bozick, Lecturer – Comparative Literature, Pennsylvania State University
Matthew Carter, Assistant Director – University Writing Center, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Susan Cogan, Assistant Professor – History, Utah State University
Catherine Eskin, Associate Professor – English, Florida Southern College
Margaret Ezell, Professor – English, Texas A&M University
Julie Fisher, Postdoctoral Fellow, American Philosophical Society
Amey Hutchins, Manuscripts Cataloging Librarian, University of Pennsylvania
Claire McNulty, Ph.D. Candidate – History, Queen’s University Belfast
Kathleen Miller, Postdoctoral Fellow – History, Queen’s University Belfast / University of Toronto
Sara Powell, Research Librarian – Beinecke Library, Yale University
Emily Rendek, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of South Carolina
Amanda Rogus, MFA Candidate – Dramaturgy, Mary Baldwin University
Taylor Sims, Ph.D. Candidate – History, University of Michigan
Robert Tallaksen, Professor (Emeritus) – Radiology, West Virginia University