Edit 14:30 17th January 2017: I have been overwhelmed with the kindness of others. After lots of sharing around on facebook and twitter, I now have an almost complete transcription – and it’s fascinating. I will be blogging it very shortly! Thank you to everyone (and their mums) for doing this. You have been lovely! [end edit]

Dear Internet – the  adventures of Fred and Janie have hit bit of a stumbling block as I don’t read shorthand. Can you or anyone you know read these three pages from my ggGrandfather’s 1879 diary? Would you be willing to let me know what they say? I believe them to be of an intimate nature – I suspect some of it might talking about sex before marriage, so be warned. Please debate in the comments, send me a contact form or tell me on the facebook page or email me at ingridbh (at) mydarlingjanie (dot) uk. (My mother was going to translate these for me but she is currently waiting for cateract surgery and can’t see the lines on the page – I understand that where a character appears on a line is important to meaning). I’d be more than grateful for any help.

“Tuesday Oct 28. Went to H (Handsworth). Saw Janie at Darnall we had a very nice walk but rather uncomfortable on account of a conversation similar to Sunday night’s thus…”shorthand-28101879shorthand-30101879shorthand-03111879



4 thoughts on “Shorthand from 136 years ago – need a hand, short or otherwise.

  1. Do you know what kind of shorthand it is? My not-very-educated guess (and hope) would be Pitman. (Because if it’s not Pitman, it’ll be something obscure, possibly even Fred’s own invention.) If it’s Pitman, you would need to find someone who knows the “old” Pitman, as opposed to Pitman 2000, which was introduced in the mid-1970s. (LOL at the futuristic name.) So someone who trained as a secretary or journalist before 1975 would be your best bet. You could try contacting the NUJ? Not sure if you’re (currently) a member? Maybe a plea in the letters page of the NUJ magazine would do the trick.


    1. Hiya – yes I since been informed by others that it is an early form of Pitman and and and – a lovely lady on FB has transcribed huge chunks of it and another lady’s mum on twitter is now looking at the gaps. I have kind people coming out of my ears – it’s wonderful.
      Thank you for your v helpful suggestions but it all looks very promising.

      And the transcription was def of a personal nature which I think might need some, er, ‘delicate’ blogging 🙂


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