With the end of 2018 quickly approaching, I found myself again at the Folger Shakespeare Library, as an attendee of their Introduction to English Paleography course, organized by the Folger Institute. The course focused on secretary hand. Since participating in my first EMROC transcribathon nearly a year before, I had spent considerable time working on my transcription skills and was keen to meet with others who had a similar investment in developing this unique skill set. The week-long course offered an unprecedented to hone these skills.
After an introduction to the Alphabet Book, any paleographer's first step to mastering the art, we moved into a range of activities that developed our ability to read different hands, work effectively within transcription software, and better understand the underlying features of composition in manuscript.
With the Library's Heather Wolfe (curator of manuscripts and archivist) running the course, we had an expert to guide us through each activity. The highlight of the course was a late-afternoon activity that demonstrated the preparation of iron gall ink, from a contemporary recipe, after which we each prepared a quill and wrote out an early modern alphabet.
During the final day, attendees participated in a transcribathon, a fitting conclusion to the course, and I came away from the week with a significantly strengthened skill set.