Specimens of penmanship from writing schools in Boston, 1748-1782

About this Collection

Engravings.Penmanship specimen books-United States-18th century.
Collection Title
Specimens of penmanship from writing schools in Boston, 1748-1782
1 linear foot (2 boxes)
Houghton Library, Harvard University
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Penmanship, American--History

Content Notes

201 single leaves generally copying a moral text or business account. Some use ornamental scripts and calligraphic drawings. Items are 32 x 41 cm or smaller. Many are in iron gall ink.|Includes specimens from: the South Writing School (50 items numbered SWS 1-50), including signed work of Abiah Holbrook (SWS 1-6, dated 1766-1770); the North Writing School (20 items numbered NWS 1-20); the Writing School in Queen Street (10 items numbered QSWS 1-10); unknown writing schools (109 items, numbered UWS 1-109), including signed work of John Fenno (UWS 33-36, dated 1764-1765); and Miscellaneous engravings including: engraved specimens of writing for copying (4 items, numbered MISC 1-4); sheets with decorative engraved borders (8 items numbered MISC 5-12, 59 x 31 cm or smaller), including borders printed by George Bickham, Henry Overton, and J. Deverson.|See Monaghan for further description of the content.
  • In English.

Biographical Notes

The public schools of colonial Boston consisted of two grammar schools, the North and the South (called the Latin School) and three writing schools. The writing schools were the Writing School in Queen Street (opened in 1684), the North Writing School (founded in 1700), and the South Writing School (from 1720). The writing schools taught spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, and the catechism.