Dave Hardy made a recent trip to the National Archives in Washington D.C. to do some research, and uncovered a previously unpublished hand-written letter from Abraham Lincoln. This is extremely cool, but I have to admit to being unable to read the letter. Sometime in elementary school, I can remember being forced to adopt handwriting, and by Junior High, teachers abandoned this crusade, and let students write however they were comfortable. I’ve always preferred printing to handwriting, so that’s what I went back to. I admit to being unable to read all but the most modern handwriting.
Bitter and I recently had a laugh when she challenged me to write out a love letter to her in longhand, and I was utterly unable to do it. I spend so much time typing these days that I can barely print legibly, let along write anything, other than my signature, out longhand.
I feel handwriting will be a lost art in a generation or so. How long before you have to seek out experts to translate a letter like Dave has brought into the digital age? How long, in an age of digital signatures, will kids even be able to write their own name out longhand? How long before we go back to illiterate times when “making your mark” was enough?
Speaking of dead skills, how many people alive can still understand shorthand? Although, like most people who were raised pre-texting/pre-IMing era, I lament the younger generations use of texting speak, I can’t help but think it’s just a variant on an old historical habit.