Your Palmer Method Stories

A few weeks ago, I sent an email asking my subscribers to share their Palmer Method stories. I heard back from a number of subscribers with stories about themselves or a parent/grandparent and the Palmer Method.

John – Pennsylvania

Starting at the age of 7, John was taught the Palmer Method as a student in Catholic school. As a natural left-hander, the nuns wanted him to learn to write with his right hand, but his mother forbid it.

He went on to teach the Palmer Method in elementary school for 20+ years to 2nd-5th grades in Baltimore, Maryland.

Today, he teaches the Palmer Method to adult students in an English as a Second Language class (ESL). When he first started teaching the class, he noticed that the students struggled with reading anything handwriting, so he decided to start teaching the Palmer Method. He told me the ESL students are fascinated by American penmanship and are eager to learn. John may very well be the last and only person teaching the Palmer Method in a classroom setting.

Marilyn’s Grandfather & Mother – St. Louis, MO

In Marilyn’s own words:

I learned cursive in school in the 50’s in a Catholic school, so I’m sure it was the Palmer Method. I’ve attached two old samples of cursive:

1. The patent is from 1904; George McDonnell was my grandfather.
2. The “first birthday” sample is from 1951. This was my birthday, and my mother wrote this in my baby book.

My grandfather’s writing looks like it is based on Spencerian, but my mom’s looks like Palmer.

Marilyn’s grandfather, George, was clearly taught Spencerian penmanship as a child in Missouri during the late 19th century. In this patent, we see a sample of his handwriting, which is basically unshaded, practical Spencerian – a precursor to the Palmer Method.
In this sample of Marilyn’s mother’s handwriting, we see a classic Palmer Method hand. This is the style of handwriting that dominated in America during the first half of the 20th century.

Gordon’s Letter from J. J. Bailey – Ottawa, Canada

Gordon has a great story about J. J. Bailey, author of the Bailey Method of Penmanship, which is an excellent resource published in Canada and teaches a similar style of penmanship to the Palmer Method. J. J. Bailey was one of the last great penmen and teachers penmanship from the Golden Age.

In 1962, Gordon lived in the Ottawa area and saw an ad in the newspaper for an upcoming lecture by J. J. Bailey. The talk was given to a crowd of local penmanship teachers at an elementary school. After the talk, Gordon wrote Bailey to say he enjoyed the talk and the demo. Bailey responded with a letter of his own, of which only the following envelope remains.

The envelope is interesting because it shows Bailey’s ornamental penmanship, which he was not particular known for. It also shows Bailey’s writing at the ripe age of 83!

For a great example of Bailey’s work, see his famous piece titled, Mile Stones on the Penmanship Highway.

Robert’s Father – Bergholz, Ohio

In Robert’s own words:

My father was born in 1908 and learned to write in Palmer style. He was so good that, local businesses, schools and colleges had him fill out diplomas, certificates and formal documents. I was always proud of him and he told me how he was instructed how to hold his writing instruments and how to practice. I enjoyed hearing him talk about his style.

In this family history, we have a specimen of Robert’s father’s Palmer Method handwriting.

Sharon – Maryland

Sharon learned the Palmer Method in a Maryland private school in the 1960s. She said they started in 2nd grade and did exercises every day, but isn’t sure when the Palmer Method lessons stopped. It was a long time ago!

“I did learn the Palmer method in school. Since schools don’t teach cursive anymore, I would like to teach my grandson this method when older. I still think it’s an important skill to have.”

Mary Ellen & Her Sisters

In Mary Ellen’s own words:

I took a survey of my 3 sisters who all went to catholic schools. Here’s what they told me:

Daily lessons started in 2nd grade up until 4th. Palmer exemplars were at the front of the classroom above the chalkboard. We received penmanship grades on our report cards. Lessons started with loop drills. I remember my teacher, Sister Elaine, tried to change my pencil grip and I refused! We were not allowed to print once we learned cursive.

I hope you enjoyed these Palmer Method stories.

Stories like the these are quickly becoming lost to time. It was great to correspond with everyone who shared there stories and appreciate everyone who took the time to do so. If you have your own Palmer Method story, please reach out and tell it to me, especially if you have samples of handwriting to share.