Cursive and Historical Literacy: A Real World Example

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In the age of computers and modern convenience, the relevancy of cursive is continually called into question. Compared to the countless fonts designed with modern aesthetics, cursive seems unwieldy – and when placed side-by-side with written print, less readable.

Yet across the nation students still learn how to write and read in cursive, and it is important that this practice continues in education.

Historical Documents Written in Cursive

While everyday use of cursive is a relic of the past, it is still critical in ensuring historical literacy. Students should be exposed regularly to primary source documents, and these documents should be presented in their original form, adding a quaint romanticism while connecting students to the past the document represents. This requires cursive proficiency – the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, the Magna Carta, Jefferson’s letters, and so many more timeless pieces of history are all inaccessible in their original form otherwise.

But, it’s important to note that learning cursive is more than just connecting with the past; it is an important part of being civic-minded to this day.

The Need For Cursive Literacy

Recently, Pioneer filed public records request asking for the authorizing documents of special tax districts in the town of Dalton, Massachusetts.  The document provided was first created in 1884 and it is written entirely in cursive. This speaks volumes about the need for cursive to continue to be taught in our schools and its modern-day relevance. To be an informed, participating citizen sometimes entails taking a look at an old piece of cursive writing and being able to read it, because it won’t always be available in Times New Roman.