Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Palmer Method of Penmanship

In my last post I said I doubted if I received the penmanship award when I graduated from the eighth grade. My handwriting was not the best even though I did try to improve it using the widely accepted Palmer Method of Penmanship taught in the schools at that time.
The Palmer Method of Business Writing booklet pictured above is one I found while sorting through boxes last month. This one is a 1944 Revised Edition. The book was first published by A. N. Palmer in 1894. In 1912 the Palmer Method textbook sold a million copies.

Didn't every one room country school have the familiar green cursive and print alphabets across the wall above the chalkboard? And the maps you rolled down to study as you learned about the states, countries and oceans? The alphabet was there to first, help you learn your A-B-C's and later as a guide to follow as you learned to write.

Not only was there a correct way to form the letters, the Palmer Method also insisted on the correct position in which to sit as you wrote - feet flat on the floor, backs straight, paper at the proper angle, pen or pencil held correctly, right elbow at or near the the lower right corner of the desk. Heaven help you if you were left handed. Most likely you would be forced to write right-handed - broken of the wrongness of using your left hand.

There are 146 lessons and 172 drills in this booklet, all designed to help you achieve rapid and legible handwriting. At the end of the book there are instructions for sending a hand written letter to the A.N. Palmer Company stating completion of the lessons and requesting a final certificate. If the handwriting in the letter met their approval, you received a 14x17 certificate for proficiency.

I think this particular booklet was among my Grandma Ridnour's things - like the lard book I wrote about last month. The name in the back is Floyd Ellis, Villisca, Ia. R-3. (Route 3, I assume.) I tried to trace Floyd Ellis and believe he ended up in California. His childhood was marked by tragedy when two of his brothers (aged 10 and 5) were killed when the horse they were riding slipped while crossing a ditch and pinned the two boys underneath her in the water. Less than a year later Floyd's mother died when he was only four years old.
Reading about the horse slipping reminded me of the times Betty and I rode old Queenie after the cows. She would always jump the ditch, never wade through it. I remember one time when it had rained heavily in the afternoon. We went down the lane to bring the cows up for the evening milking. Of course the cows were on the other side of the creek and wouldn't come on their own. We looked and looked for the safest place to cross the fast-moving water - finally getting over and back across herding the cows toward the barn. When we told Mom how high and fast the creek was she told us we shouldn't have tried crossing it and to never do that again if the water was high.

I do very little writing anymore. Once I learned to type, I used a typewriter when I could. It as much faster and more legible. Then came computers. About the only thing I write now is my signature. I don't make my R the way I was taught, but the I and L are still very similar to the Palmer Method.

1 comment:

  1. Believe it or not...I remember my kindergarten teacher trying to make me write with my right hand...and you know how well that worked out for her... :)