Draft notes only: Vertical and Upright Writing Article

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See an article I am working on in Scalar to understand vertical writing and its important in the context of some other movements.
"The Varieties and Complexities of American Handwriting and Penmanship: Library Hand" [1]

Below is a gathering of assorted information that I hope to make more use of and better sense of later.

PLEASE REVIEW MATERIAL IN FRENCH! Translation needed. [2] and [3] see pages [4] and [5]

.5 "The recent revival of vertical penmanship (dropped since the middle of the sixteenth century for slant writing) illustrates still further the statement that there is little that is new in the art itself that has not been tried at some previous period, and the further well observed tendency of popular taste and usage to vibrate, pendulum-like, from one extreme to another for mere variety or imagined improvement, since vertical penmanship was the original standard and has always been more or less in use by individuals and writers of ancient texts. The basis of the vertical renaissance now advocated is the Old English Round Hand of the style hitherto pronounced slow and clumsy for business uses by the progress of the last century, and condemned by our chronicler, who has, we notice, in anticipation of the revival, just published Shaylor's Old Round Hand Vertical Penmanship, in a series of head line copy books ! "
from Illustrated Lectures and Lessons on the Philosophy, Physiology, Psychology, Pedagogy and Child Study: Training and Practice of the theory and Art of Penmanship, Ellsworth, Henry W., 1897, page 264. Appendix article is "The Old and New in Writing. A SKETCH OF THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF PENMANSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES." From a Paper read by H. W. Shaylor at the National Penman.s Convention, Erie, Pa
1. Article introduction


Variants of the vertical style that pre-date Jackson

Thomas Edison's experiments with vertical and backhand in 186?-1870?, noted in 1885, Science Vol 6, No. 133, pages 145-146 [6]
Another article, which describes his style [7]
And another, with a sample of his writing, see pages 109-110, Cassier's Magazine, Volume 3, Henry Harrison Suplee, [8]
2. The beginning of the vertical style
in Europe

" To two medical authors Ellinger and Gross belongs the glory of having explicitly pointed out in numerous publications about 1874 5 that the cause of the bad posture of children while writing ought not to be looked for as hitherto in external matters nor should the blame be laid on the teacher but that the ultimate reason for oblique sitting lay rather in the way of writing itself this latter would have to be entirely revolutionised and in particular a copy book pushed sideways towards the right must not be tolerated in the case of any child for herein lay the root of the worst distortions of eye head and trunk In the positive part of their labours however Ellinger and Gross were neither in agreement with one another nor did their views coincide with what we to day believe should be pronounced the solution of the question At first Ellinger demanded oblique writing on a copy book lying obliquely before the middle of the body but in the year 1885 he joined the Middle Franconia Reform Movement and professed the "[9] [10]

"conviction that Vertical Writing in straight middle position is the only correct one Gross on the other hand desired perpendicular writing but strangely enough at the same time a slightly oblique position of the copy book This is as I hope to make clear further on an internal contradiction which the first practical experiments in writing must have rendered obvious Nevertheless it was the very fresh and stirring pamphlet of Gross that directed the attention of a wide circle to the need of a writing reform and thereby gave the impulse to all subsequent efforts Thus it came about that Dr Martius District Medical Adviser discussed the proposals of Gross in the Medical District Union at Ansbach and carried a motion in the Middle Franconia Medical Council to the effect that the Government should through the official organs have data collected as to the possible dangers of oblique writing Simultaneously a critique by Mr Methsieder District School Inspector was produced which strongly advocated perpendicular writing At the same sitting of the Medical Council in 1879 the president Dr Merkel Medical Adviser also declared very decidedly in favour of Vertical Writing which he himself had been exclusively using for many years Without going into details on the labours and counter currents of the next ten years I will now try to explain our present knowledge of the physiology of writing and in connection therewith give an account of the results of the experiments with perpendicular writing in separate school classes in Central Franconia Flensburg and Vienna" See, John Jackson, The Theory and Practice of Handwriting: a Practical Manual ..., 1896, [11] [12]

"Looking at position from the hygienic standpoint we find the discussion on this subject began in 1874 when Drs Ellinger and Goss of Europe charged all the evils to the bad position of the book at first Dr Ellinger demanded oblique writing on a book lying obliquely before the middle of the body but in 1885 he professed a conviction that vertical writing in the straight middle position was the only correct one The first investigations by the medical authorities did not agree but it was the beginning of other investigations by medical societies and educators in France Austria Germany and England which has practically led to the same conclusion so far as the book and body are concerned all agreeing upon the front middle position the book being parallel to the front edge of the desk the middle of the copy line being somewhat to the right of the breast bone." See, Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the ... Annual Meeting, National Educational Association (U.S.). Meeting, Volume 35, 1896. [13] see [14]

1880s Dutch [15]

3. England's adoption of the vertical style
and the dominance of John Jackson

John Jackson's books in 1880? [16] Note that this is a misprint in a book from much later.

1883, vertical style used in 30 places in Europe, as noted by Jackson [17]

John Jackson publishes "The System of Upright Penmanship" in 1886, [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

John Jackson confirmed to have printed books, as appear in advertisements in 1887 (pre-dates the 20th edition of 1892, which is the earliest in Worldcat?) [[23]]

3.1 See ambidextrity, etc. and Jackson, pages 130-32 [24]

1876, Dewey and the electric pen [25] "By October 1876, Dewey had moved his offices to more spacious quarters
at 1 Tremont Place, where he continued to make every effort to tie together
all his reform interests. There he not only served as American Metric
Bureau manager, but also as SRA secretary and editor of its publications,
ALA secretary-treasurer, and Library Journal managing editor. To AMB members
he later wrote: "Every practical labor or money-saving device has
been employed to make the most of our limited efforts and means." Office
equipment, he said, included duplicating machines, an electric pen,
and a typewriter. Office material included forty-five different circulars,
thirty bulletins, and hundreds of preprinted postcards used to respond to
common inquiries. Dewey did not mention that this equipment was also
being used for ALA and SRA and for both their journals."

September 1885 conference at Lake George, Dewey and the electric pen, and other details regarding speed and copying [26]
1885, a discussion of library hand related to typewriting, Edison's experiments, and handwriting in libraries [27] 1886 in America

Edison's electric pen website [28]
Thomas Edison Papers, electric pen described, not used at about 1880, [29] Edison's electric pen described in a later article [30]

Library Notes, March 1887
Are the dates of the beginning of "library-hand" coincidental, or are they related to the movement towards vertical writing?
Library Hand described and endorsed by Dewey
Slant: "the nearer upright the letters the more legible the writing...a slight backward slope seems better than a forward" (p. 276) [[31]]
Original serial at NYPL[32]

3.2.8 UNDATED LIBRARY HAND SAMPLES On or after 1912 Example:[33] Source: [34]

3.2.9 The minuscule E in signatures and writing
Wisconsin art, and vertical writing? see bottom signature [35]

3.3 Mention of London adopting vertical handwriting in 1891[36]
After thorough discussion of the merits of vertical handwriting at the Seventh International Congress of Hygiene and Demography, London, 1891, on the motion of Dr. Kotelman, seconded by Dr. Gladstone, vice-chairman of the school board for London, England, the following resolution was passed: “That as the hygenic advantages of vertical handwriting have clearly demonstrated and established both by medical investigation and practical experiment, and as now by its adoption the injurious positions so productive of spinal curvature and short sight are to a great extent avoided, it is hereby recommended that the upright penmanship be introduced and generally taught in the elementary and secondary schools.”


1891-1893, 1894, Literature review regarding vertical handwriting, and article, Texas School Journal, Vol XII, No. 4, April 1894 [37] [38]

1893, early adoption in schools in Chicago, with more schools using it there in 1894: "It was introduced in a few of the Chicago schools last year [September 1894] and this year has been introduced into many more" [39] [40]

3.3.2 Annual report of the State Department of Health of Maine. 1891
This has a very early and fairly complete report with photos from Europe that seem not to appear elsewhere in American publications? Although a report from 1891, it was in a printed volume in 1892. See pages 195-202 [41]

Vaile, 1891/3? [42] [43]

"In the summer of 1892 the hygienic advantages of vertical writing were described
by Dr. William H. Burnham of Clark University, in a series of lectures before teachers
and superintendents attending the summer school, and this appears to have been
the first authoritative voice raised in our country in favor of the new system." (pages 58-59)
Annual meeting of the American Institute of Instruction, 1899 [44]

After a July meeting which introduced Newlands to the new style, in September 1892 vertical writing is taught in Kingston, Ontario, introduced by Newlands. See page 619 [45]
3.5.5 See corroboration and additional information from 1897 of the history of vertical writing and its spread across the US- California, Texas, Chicago, New York, etc. [46]
3.6 Newspaper articles 1893
Wyoming County times., January 12, 1893, Page 6, Image 6, Warsaw, NY
Image provided by: Rochester Regional Library Council [47]
Los Angeles Herald, Volume 40, Number 182, 10 October 1893 [48]
Lewiston Evening Journal - Oct 16, 1893 [49]
Newspaper articles and journals in 1894 Dr. Shaw of CUNY, and his involvement [50]
1894, February 27th, early adoption of vertical writing in Ogdensburg, NY, see [51]
1894-95, Superintendent Barney Whitney reports in a NY State summary [52]
Shenandoah Herald, Volume 74, Number 35, 26 October 1894

4. The introduction of the vertical style
into the United States


Let us begin the discussion of the introduction into the United States of the vertical and
upright writing styles with the assertion by Charles Paxton Zaner that "The teaching of
writing to children necessitated something simple and plain. The vertical met that demand,
but failed to satisfy or meet the demands of business. It was suited to childhood rather than
to commerce, and thereby failed in general usage at the hands of adults." He further adds it
is a "Style taught in public schools from 1894 to 1904."[[53]]

The first question one might ask is, "Is this true?"

Regarding Zaner's statement, it must be noted that he was born in 1864 and was fully involved
as a penman well before 1894, and so he certainly speaks with some authority on the dates
and the details surrounding the vertical style. It is important, probably, to assume that the
statement is largely correct and accurate, but one must question if some of the exact particulars
might have been lost in this short statement.

How soon did the discussion of vertical writing reach the United States, and how soon was this style
See San Francisco Call, Volume 73, Number 10, 10 December 1892 [54] "Learning to Write. Buffalo Commercial. The question is being asked, both in Europe and America, why it is that the handwriting of the average indlvidual continues so poor, despite the time and eftort spent by the schools in teaching the art of writing. The physicians, too, aroused by their o»n personal observations, have raised a protest against existing methods ol teaching writing. They hold that both myopia and scoliosis, which develop so largely during school life, are distinctly traceable and taught in writing lessons; that these harmful postures are due to the "slope" or "slant" of the writing; that the spine will certainly be twisted unless an upright style of writing is adopted; that vertical writing, if substituted, for the prevailing "sloping" style, would obviate all of these troubles. It has also been shown by experiment that the vertical style of writing can be taught more quickly than the "sloping," and, when learned, is more legible. We seem to be reaching a point where the typewriter will do the whole business." Los Angeles Herald, Volume 39, Number 96, 15 January 1893 [55]

Vaile, 1891/3? [56]

For example, a single set of eight books published in 1893 in New York by William Beverly Harison titled
"Harison's Vertical Penmanship" does exist. [57] While perhaps not printed in great quantities
or perhaps not available in any school that year, it does suggest an introduction in 1893.
Is there any proof of this introduction into a public school? Is there any documentation to
support a date as early as 1893?

In November 1893, the article "An Argument for Vertical Handwriting" by Joseph V. Witherbee,
"Principal of the Public School 24, Brooklyn, NY" appears on pages 86 -93 in The Popular Science Monthly,
Volume 44. [58]
A few months later, in the January - February 1894 edition of The New Education, Volume II, No. 1
the same article is reprinted. In the article, he argues for the merits [add quick list here] of the new style, and he provides several
comparisons of slant writing sample from February 20, 1893 and vertical writing samples from
May 19, 1893. He does not specifically identify whether this is writing from English or American
students, but it is implied that they are English because he mentions regular instruction over a
period of time. He also adds photos of two girls, one sitting in the proper "hygenic" position and
another who is not; these photos are intended to illustrate the curvature of the spine caused
by writing in a bad position and at a slant, whereas a straight spine is supposed to be maintained
and created with the hygenic position and vertical writing. He also argues for that the eyes are
misaligned with a bad writing position. Combined, the vertical writing and proper position
provide "the best chance of growing up with a straight spine and unimpaired eyesight."

Two important details worth noting about the dates in Witherbee's article: At the end of his opening
paragraph he states, "As yet, I believe, no American publishers have issued a series of copy-books
with the upright letters, though one house contemplates it in the near future." The November edition
of The Popular Science Monthly in which the article first appeared does not exclude the possibility
of the publication of Harison's Vertical Penmanship shortly after his writing of the the article or in
the two months before the new year. The second interesting detail is that in the article, he includes
vertical copy-slips samples that are copyright in 1893 with his name alongside the date.

The date of 1893 on the books by Harison's is its own proof of publication before 1894. But the question
remains about whether these books were in fact used in the public schools in 1893 or not.
[Add any facts here that prove the use of these books in public schools in 1893.]

By September, Witherbee's own Common Sense Copy-Books were published in New York by A. Lovell & Co.,
as noted on the second page of the Cambridge Tribune, Volume XVII, Number 27, 8 September 1894.
Also published in 1894 were the books of ...

4.1.1 1899 advertisement for "Educational System or Round-Hand Vertical Writing" prepared by Anna E. Hill and published Thomas R. Shewell [59] and link to page [60]


California Vertical Writing SystemArticles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles Herald, Volume 40, Number 182, 10 October 1893 [61] DANGER IN WRITING. EXPERTS SAY THAT SLANTING SCRIPT CAUSES DISEASE. A Movement In Favor of Vertical Script Backed by the Highest Medical Authorities—Results of Extensive Experiments With School Children. The method of writing taught in modern schools and practiced by 99 people out of every 100 has been declared dangerous and unhealthful by experts. By the time the next generation matures it will probably have been wiped out. The script then will be vertical instead of slanting, and writers will sit square and upright before their work instead of sideways and stooped, as at present. The idea of this prospective reform originated in Germany and overspreads England while reaching this country. The following resolution was adopted not long ago by the international congress of school hygiene in London by a vote of 229 against 1: Whereas, The hygienic advantages of vertical writing have been clearly shown and established both by medical investigation and practical experience, and Whereas, Its introduction obviates those pernicious positions of the body which entail rachitic diseases and myopia, Resolved, That we recommend the introduction of vertical writing in the schools of the people. The effect of so serious an action in a country esteeming proper physical conditions as England esteems them is readily to be imagined. Tho corresponding movement in the United Stales is led by Dr. Burnham of Clark university. His investigations have brought the conviction that the ordinary position in writing is among the foremost conditions of school life and methods of training which must be changed in the interest of health. The vertical script, therefore, is strongly recommended. From 80 to 90 per cent of lateral curvature of the spine is found to be caused in school life, the curvature in a large per cent of these cases being toward tho right side, as a result of a defective position in writing, and the eyes at the same time are seriously injured by this slanted writing. The practical advance of the newly approved system in this country is illustrated in the Worcester normal school and the Workingmen's school at Fiftyfourth street in this city, directed by Professor Adler, where the vertical writing is used in the lower grades and now carried on to the fourth and fifth grades. The observations of foreign physicians showing that the prevalence of myopia and spinal curvature is regularly increased in the advance through the school grades are supplemented in this country by work on novel lines. An energetic course followed by Dr. Shaw of the University of the City of New York has given additional proof that the cause of the difficulty is to be attributed to the desks which are generally in use, and more especially to the bad position in writing, the opinion being held with apparent unanimity by investigators in this country as well as abroad that all but two positions to be taken in the school practice of writing are improper. One judged to be correct is the oblique central position and the other the straight central position, between which in reference to final choice the controversy in Germany is said to be fierce. The advocates of reform observe that the child writes vertically when he first goes to school, and that the teacher has to work for the slant. The vertical writing and the central position at the desk are alike naturally indicated. At this stage the controversy has led to the conclusion that the height of the desk and that of the seat must be equally adapted to the growth of the pupil. In some of the progressive schools, as Felix Adler's and at South Orange, N. J., adjustable seats are being used. The point in Dr. Shaw's recent experiments, made with the aid of several assistants on more than 1 ,800 pupils in the New York and suburban schools, has been to see whether, with the paper directly in front of the pupil and with the eyes closed, there could be any tendency toward vertical writing. The pupils were first requested to take the customary position in writing, and to write in the ordinary manner the sentence, "John is flying his paper kite." This form of exercise was selected on account of the number of long letters which it contains, and as being one also that is easy for the child to remember. After having thus written the sentence, the pupil was directed to take the straight central position, dip his pen in the ink and with his eyes closed to write the same again. The closing of tho eyes was to eliminate from the child's mind the conscious - ness of the slant. The angle of slant in all the long letters in the test papers was carefully measured, the angle of slant in the usual writing in each case being also found with the same precision. The measurements and the calculations ran up to 3,600 items, and among other issues of the work was the invention by a lady of a machine for making tho measurements. —New York Press.


Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 92, Number 12, 2 September 1896 [62]
BOARD OF EDUCATION. It Adopts a System of Vertical Penmanship. An adjourned meeting of the City Board of Education was held last night, Directors Sherburn, Buchanan, Dolan, Perkins, Brown, Whitbeck, Davis and Driver being present. The principal purpose of the meeting was to consider and adopt a vertical writing copy-book. Mrs. Rodgers of Pacific Grove, one of the authors of the California system, represented it, and Mr. Hodgson represented the Newlands & Raw system. The Committee on Course of Study reported in favor of the Newlands & Raw system. The Superintendent reported that, by authority given to him at the last meeting of the board, he had changed the Principal of Capital Primary School from the fifth to the second grade, and Miss Sherburn from the second to the fifth grade. The reason for this change was to give the principal more time to supervise, as the second grade is dismissed a half-hour sooner in the forenoon and afternoon. A request was received from Miss Govan, Principal of Jefferson Primary School, that she be changed to the second grade for the same reason. The matter was referred to the Superintendent with power to act. Bills were allowed as follows: T. W. Book. $187; S. Carle, $608 25; G A. Wendt. $678; George W. McKay, $600; Earle Bros., $21.

San Francisco

San Francisco Call, Volume 82, Number 10, 10 June 1897
The Board of Education Believes in Home Products. Seven More Teachers Placed in the Substitute Class Against Protest. President Barrington Advocates the Enforcement of the Law of Compulsory Education. The Board of Education at its regular meeting last evening decided to adopt the "California vertical system of writing," of which H. S. Crocker & Co. is holder of the copyright and publisher of the copy-books. There was a long discussion over the matter, but upon coming to vote only four members were recorded as against the resolution...."

Los Angeles

Los Angeles Herald, Volume 25, Number 212, 30 April 1898 [63] HAVE HAD THEIR SAY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS RECOMMEND NATURAL SYSTEM Met Yesterday to Discuss Penmanship and Make Suggestions to the Board of Education Big men and women—principals of schools—sat in little seats at the Springstreet school yesterday afternoon after lesson hours and the troublesome small boy and annoying small girl had gone to their homes to tantalize their parents. These principals spoke of fingers, pens, paper and things of that kind, for they met to decide upon what, in their opinion, would be the best system of writing for the board of education to adopt for the school children of this city. This is not the first time that this subject has been discussed in educational circles, for the board had a time of it with that very same matter a week ago, and they gave up in despair in the face of arguments presented by agents of two rival publishing houses. As a final resort they concluded to permit principals to have something to say in the matter, though the board, of course, retains the right to reject their recommendation. The matter had resolved itself into two kinds of vertical writing—the one exploited by the Crocker company of San Francisco and known as the California, and the other by D. C. Heath & Co. of Boston, who term their system the "neutral." Small groups of men and women were discussing the matter between themselves, when John H. Braly of the board of education, who also presided, called the meeting to order. Then followed pro and con argument that lasted an hour or more, every one of the fifty persons present having something to say. One principal, a woman, said she preferred the natural system, because. In her opinion, and from personal observation, children wrote more freely on paper without a guiding line than with it, as featured by the California system. A vote resulted 35 to 15 in favor of the natural system, and the principals will recommend its acceptance to the board at its next meeting. The California system of penmanship was arranged by Mrs. [?] D. Rodgers and Belle Duncan of Pacific Grove, Cal.. and the natural system by A. F. Newlands and R. K. Row of Boston. The differenc [sic] between the two styles is very slight. The California has a leaning towards the Spencerian, still thought good enough in many of the leading schools and colleges of the east, while the natural Is absolutely vertical and the letters very large. Teachers say it is more natural for a child to write vertical than slanting."

San Jose, July 1, 1897

Annual Report of the City Superintendent of Schools for the Year Ending ...: Together with the Course of Study and Rules and Regulations for the Public Schools of the City of San Jose, California (Google eBook)
Vertical Writing is Really Backhand

San Fransciso

Los Angeles Herald, Volume XXXI, Number 249, 4 June 1904
SAN FRANCISCO, June 3.—The board of education today decided to abolish the vertical system of handwriting "as being awkward, unnatural and inconsistent." It was decided to adopt for the public schools the Curtiss semi-vertical free-hand writing

Kansas City / San Francisco

San Francisco Call, Volume 102, Number 47, 17 July 1907 [66]
It is probable that by this time the man who Invented vertical penmanship for pupils in the public schools has passed to his long punishment. Charity requires us to hope that he will not be overpunished, but a knowledge of his crime compels the belief that he can not be. The slow, characterless, unserviceable, impracticable method, which has been impressed I upon millions of children only to hamper them through life must have been devised by a most sinister and malevolent mind— a mind which can 'not be made duly repentant except by cruel and unusual punishment. --Kansas City Journal.


The first book of illustrated words and sentences; or, Easy lessons in spelling,
by W.J. Moran and C.H. Brelsford. c1901

Roman [67]
Rational Slant [68]
Vertical [69]

1897-1898, printers and their type specimens, See Type Heritage [70] 1897-8?, Greenwich, MA adopts vertical penmanship [71] 1905
Investigation of Writing Systems [72]
New Spencerian Writing System, by contrast...[73] [74] 4.1.7
Supplanting Spencerian and vertical style is the use of the Palmer writing style in schools in 1905 in Iowa
"Iowa: Vertical taught in all graded and high schools when in course. System adopted by state tho some superintendents use Spencerian. Palmer methods favored for high schools and business." [75]
The long and slow adoption of the Palmer method started before, continued during, and was in fact after vertical penmanship. It is said that the Palmer method came to New York City to replace the vertical style in 1905: " By 1884 Palmer had launched the magazine Western Penman to further spread the news about his handwriting method. Still, by the turn of the century the effect of Palmer's method on the American public school system was mostly regional—although it had been widely adopted by parochial schools. That was to change in 1904, when Palmer gave a penmanship exhibit in St. Louis. In attendance were New York City school officials who asked him to come to New York to teach the system to inner-city school students. His results were so impressive that the New York schools began to use his system the very next year. Palmer soon opened a New York office and moved there in 1907 to oversee the widespread adoption of his methods, which quickly spread throughout the rest of the United States."[76]
4.2 American authors and their books
4.5. The broad use of the vertical style
in public schools in the United States

4.6 Pens for vertical writing see S.T.A. Harison Vertical writing From The Great Round World 1897 [77]

5. Additional section
6. The vertical tradition wanes
in US public schools

7. Private schools, home schooling,
and the continued use of vertical and
upright styles.

In this section, let us trace the effect of the style among private schools
and for home-schooling where the tradition of the style continues to this
day, more than a century after Zaner declared its demise.

8. Writing samples

9. Advertisements and catalog entries

10. Articles on vertical handwriting

11. Collection of book samples

12. Bibliography of vertical and upright
handwriting and penmanship books

1916 Library handwriting [[78]]