By Emily Hunter, Field Book Project
Break out your quills! As you may (or may not) know,
National Handwriting Day is quickly approaching on January 23rd. Sonoe Nakasone
last year at this time about this important national holiday, selecting
Steven J. Arnold as the recipient of the Field Book Project 2012 penmanship
award. This year, I’d like to introduce you to a few types of handwriting that
we come across in field books. We’ve narrowed down to a few selections to
represent each category. However, we invite YOU to help us choose a Best in
The Graceful Script
The graceful script hearkens back to a day when beautiful penmanship was respected. We appreciate the time it took these collectors to dip their quills and make those even, careful loops and dips. Both of our candidates were chosen because their script is not just visually interesting, but also legible.
The Utilitarian Print
What a relief to the tired eyes of a cataloger, to view the nice clean text of a hand-printed field book entry. So easy to read! We chose the two candidates below for being so meticulous and neat.
The Highly Stylized
This type of writing is always a treat to read, as it always seems to reveal something of the creator’s personality. The highly stylized hand can be full of over-the-top flourishes and exaggerated slants (either left or right). Some are round and bulbous, others are jaunty, others long and lean. Overall, we appreciate the variety of this category.
The Nearly Illegible
Let’s be honest. These collectors had bigger fish to fry than neatly writing in their field books. They didn’t waste time dotting i’s and crossing t’s—they got the information down! Whether they were atop a camel, in a helicopter, or off-roading, their handwriting records the necessary information in a way that they (and maybe only they) can read later.
Vote for the Field Book Project 2013 Handwriting Award!
As you can see, different handwriting styles can certainly yield different outcomes, and directly affect our own appreciation of the content. We might romanticize the script writing, we can easily read the utilitarian print, we make estimations about the content of those written in the “illegible” style. How can one choose a best in show, when comparing apples to oranges? So, we’d like to open it up to you, dear readers. What do you think? Please cast your vote for one of the field book handwriting samples above, via our Google survey. We’ll share the results via Twitter on National Handwriting Day, January 23, 2013. Thank you for voting!