Tuesday, June 5, 2012


After her surgery Kellie moved herself back home for a week or so. It was great having her around, but admittedly, she was easily bored and often frustrated that she wasn't as mobile as she wanted to be. It's tough for an athlete, especially, to be down.

After a few days of self-pity, Kellie pulled herself together and found purpose again in her literal laid-back lifestyle. She signed up as an indexer for the 1940 Census. This was something she could do with an elevated leg and feel productive at the same time. 

The 1940 Census records have recently been released and the LDS Church is digitizing them through Family Search. Whenever Kellie feels like indexing, she is given a batch of records to transcribe from cursive writing into digital print. The task of interpreting handwriting from 52 years ago, however, has periodically been a daunting task.
Kellie has come to realize that it would be so much easier if she actually was a writer of cursive herself. Alas, cursive writing is a lost art, I fear. None of my children actually write in cursive. They each did learn it at some point, but they were not required to keep it up. When they DO attempt to do so, the form resembles that of a third grader. In fact, even my almost 50-year-old husband can't write in cursive any more. To try to teach my kids to have an actual signature has been a real treat.

I was impressed that Kellie took it upon herself to teach herself cursive writing again. I was delighted and amazed that she actually wanted to practice her handwriting skills.
She asked me to remind her how to make certain letters, and although I DO write in cursive on occasion, I (like many adults) have my own style. So, I was not as much a help as I had hoped to be. I suggested she Google the correct technique, and so she did.

I rounded up some old elementary school paper and Kellie began practicing and practicing until her fingers were tired and a sore indention was visible on her middle finger from gripping the pen too tightly. I recall that feeling all too well.
I just smile to myself remembering this pile of papers on Kellie's bed sheets. Her efforts have made it a bit easier for her to decipher the census worker's scribblings. She has indexed records from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and most recently New York. In fact, the last batch was from a prison.

It's made me think--this whole handwriting script. Will it be lost completely in a few generations? Are they even teaching it in the elementary schools these days?

As for me, I'm making a more concerted effort to write my shopping lists, thank you notes, and journal entries in cursive. I wonder if my posterity will even be able to read it though?


Suzanne said...

I've been indexing the 1940 census too -- it makes you appreciate those whose handwriting is neat and orderly!

Deb in UT said...

I really admire Kellie.

They teach cursive at Owen's school. He's just finishing up fourth grade. I know they don't teach it at some schools. Also, kids can get a parent's note saying they don't have to learn cursive. Weird. I think it's important too. Kellie's experience shows why!

Sue said...

I can't believe that some schools aren't teaching cursive writing. That is crazy to me!


2busy said...

I agree that cursive is becoming a lost art. After my kids learned it, they reverted back to printing.

I have been indexing. I think it is the coolest thing. I often wonder who has gotten my grandparents and what if I got them. Just kind of think that would be cool.

Marianne said...

I had a very similar discussion with Mrs. Bakke when Isaac started 3rd grade last year. Cursive is definitely becoming a lost art! But aren't a lot of things in our culture becoming "lost" as technology moves in and makes things seem obsolete? Having a face-to-face conversation with a friend, for example. I talk to you on your blog all the time, but I rarely see you or actually spend time with you. It's a lost art!!

I love you still, even though I don't see you!!

Kimmie said...

We were told when we went to "back to school night" by my son's 3rd grade teacher that a legal signature doesn't have to be in cursive anymore. It's truly becoming a lost art the more we technology we have in our lives.

I am mad at myself that when I went to college, I stopped writing in cursive....I didn't like my writing and it was much easier to write in block writing and so now my cursive is WORSE than a 3rd graders.

It's sad all of the things that are lost arts, or becoming lost arts. I think that's why I'm SO Passionate about keeping up on my primitive skills and cooking the majority of everything from SCRATCH because I don't want those things to become lost arts to me. I think I need to print off some pages and spend 10-15 minutes a day working on my cursive so that doesn't become a lost art as well.

Jess said...

I heard that they are doing away with cursive in elementary schools to focus more on instant messaging and email since that is what the future will be. I for one, think that cursive is faster and prettier. My handwriting is currently a mix of block and cursive.

Mrs.Spy said...

Good for her for doing something so awesome while she is down and out! I love indexing. :)
They are still teaching cursive, my children hate it and wonder why they have to do it, since their generation never uses the written word to communicate.
I remember kids getting awards at the end of the year for penmanship in school, now the kids just endure it- kind of like I did Algebra. :)

Garden of Egan said...

Very interesting.
I love to write and always have. I loved reading letters from my grandmother whose handwriting was so beautiful.
I remember taking cursive in elementary school. I can't even fathom them doing much of that anymore.

Ya, handwritten notes....the best.

It's hilarious that Kellie was practicing. So cute!!!! Hope she gets feeling better soon.

ruthie said...

I've noticed that lack of cursive, also. Good for her! I need to get the spirit of indexing and feel guilty about not doing it.

E. said...

Well, you already know how I feel about this subject. I LOVE cursive and all things hand-written!

Royalbird said...

I love cursive writing. My third grader learned it at school this year and I encourage him to write in it anytime he writes, which is a lot. He has even taught his younger brother some cursive. I'm glad that our school here still teaches it, but if they didn't, I would teach it to my children myself. I always write in cursive when I write (in my journal, taking notes, etc.) because I find that I write faster in cursive than I do in print. Which is, I feel, the whole reason cursive exists.

Stopping by from MMB.

Giggles said...

I decided that for my 30th birthday a few years ago I was going to get myself a leather bound journal and I was going to write in it in cursive. It had been years since I'd consistently written in cursive. So I spent several months before my birthday practicing by copying favorite scriptures into a scratch pad in cursive. Now I can just as easily write in cursive as I do print.

No art has to be lost if there are still people who do it.

Susan R said...

Cursive is definitely a lost art. I wrote a letter the other day and one of my children said she couldn't read it. Honestly, it was like reading a foreign language.
Question: How are kids going to learn how to write their own signatures? We will have a generation of people that print out their names.