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How to Find /Acquire Examples of Everyday Handwriting by Year

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This is a great idea for researching how writing forms were "really" used. Another option would be to look for handwritten letters online at the Library of Congress ( and download for free. I do genealogical research and read compilations of letters from individuals over time. One observation is that exhibition of penmanship skills depended on the recipient -- a billet-doux to a sweetheart would show the best hand possible, bills and letters to friends would be far more casual but still presentable, while a personal journal would be scribbled in something more akin to what we see today.

There was a recent post regarding seeing "ordinary" handwriting over the years, to which I intended to reply, but can not now find, so am posting in this older thread on the topic.
I, too, enjoy examples of ordinary writing. I acquired this one just last week. This one from 1879 strongly suggests formal training in Spencerian, and used in a hastily written note. Probably the author's daily hand. It's written on lined linen paper (based on a watermark on the letter), probably like the notebook paper we have today (only of superior quality) for daily casual use.


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