Amputee Left-Handed Penmanship Contest Docs from LOC

Pat Young

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Bee

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JPK Huson 1863

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Boy, it highlights some extraordinary care shown the veterans? My goodness. You read confusing information, you know? How the pension board could be horrifically miserly yet veterans homes were wonderful- then this. A lot of care went into this, and caring.

vet penmanship.jpg

Looks like a lot of penmanship in the era, only nicer!

vet penmanship2.jpg
 

Pat Young

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This is incredibly interesting, Pat! My uncle was a vet who was paralyzed on the right side during a subsequent war, and I always thought that it was amazing that he re-learned to write with the opposite hand. I wish that I had known about this contest when he was alive; he would have appreciated it.
Part of my research on Reconstruction has included veterans. Really interesting stuff.
 
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I'm reminded that Conferate General Longstreet, although not eligible for this particular contest, also had to learn to write left-handed after being wounded (friendly fire, I believe) at the Wilderness. I've seen a sample of his left-handed writing (it was here on Civil War Talk) and it was excellent. How many non-famous people we don't know about had to go through this?

If I lost the use of my right arm, I'd be typing one-handed on my computer as an alternative to trying to write left-handed. My right-handed writing is bad enough that I have trouble reading it myself! That, of course, wasn't an option back in those days.

Not only is penmanship becoming a lost art (although my daughter writes lovely cursive, having spent several years studying calligraphy), but reading cursive writing is also a lost art. However, I must admit that I have a lot of trouble reading other people's writing, too, especially styles older than the "Palmer method" I learned in the 1940s. Even worse is cursive writing in French--even though I'm fairly fluent in that language, I can't read handwritten French at all!.
 

Pat Young

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Boy, it highlights some extraordinary care shown the veterans? My goodness. You read confusing information, you know? How the pension board could be horrifically miserly yet veterans homes were wonderful- then this. A lot of care went into this, and caring.

View attachment 101801
Looks like a lot of penmanship in the era, only nicer!

View attachment 101802
There are several good studies of the lives of veterans that have appeared in the last six years. Later on I will try to get a thread going on them.
 

Pat Young

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Very interesting Pat, thanks for posting.

I fear penmanship will soon become a lost skill. In this age of computers the public schools aren't even teaching kids to write in cursive anymore... :thumbsdown:
My penmanship is pretty bad, in spite of the best efforts of the nuns.
 
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If you have studied the lives of Civil War vets, you know about the Left-Handed penmanship contests for right-handed amputees. These contests rewarded those Union veterans who had learned to write with thier non-dominant hand. The Library of Congress has put together a page looking at these contests.

https://www.loc.gov/collections/wm-oland-bourne-papers/about-this-collection/
An interesting topic--also just covered by Allison M. Johnson, assistant professor of English at San José State University. Her book, The Scars We Carve: Bodies and Wounds in Civil War Print Culture, will be published by Louisiana State University Press. This excerpt was posted today on the the National Museum of Civil War Medicine website (http://www.civilwarmed.org/left/?fb...1PlrnPKK0H3W4PlNuczP2fzCW5MTkdJ5KoLj0QPmkeu-Q)

What amazes me is the prize money! $200 was more than year's salary for an enlisted man. Almost $4,000 in today's currency.

Handbill-advertising-Bournes-contest.jpg
 



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