Wednesday 5 August 2009

Ackworth Girls Learning Pitman in 1844?

While putting together some material for you about the Ackworth School bookmarks, I came across this letter from a pupil written in 1844 to her teacher, Mary Stickney. Look how she signs her name and then the marks under it, which might on first gaze be taken for decoration. However, I believe she is also signing her name using the Pitman Sytem of Shorthand which was introduced in 1840. Is there anyone who can confirm this, please? If this is the case, then it is very exciting to discover that the system was being used at Ackworth so early after its introduction.


  1. It certainly looks like she used Pitman shorthand to me. This may be confirmation.

    Jane/Chilly Hollow

  2. Having no background on shorthand, I google and now I can read as far as [sa]....
    Now I know how to start my name, anyway.
    I am learning so much from this blog, thank you Jacqueline!

  3. I took shorthand in high school and this looks like her exciting is that???

  4. Yes it is Pitman Shorthand. I think (it's a long time since I learned and used shorthand) that it actually says Sarah Ann Jesper.

  5. I googled pitman shorthand before I read the comments left above me. I have always wanted to learn short hand. When I was watching the u-tube video it was very interesting and exciting as explained to see that Sarah was writing in short hand. I thought it made sense when the video explained why short hand was used. Thanks for the learning lesson, keep them coming please.

  6. I took Pitman in high school and still have some of my instructions books -- that definitely looks like her name!

  7. Thank you so very much for this exciting news! How quickly we have achieved this new knowledge which just would not have been possible without your seeing what I can see and being able to share your expertise. Fabulous! I shall have to have a little dance...

  8. Yes, they did learn shorthand at Ackworth in the 1840's. I found the following in 'The Phonotypic Journal' after a search in Google books, it is a letter from Joseph Pitman.
    [page 85]
    "...In all these schools the masters or assistants in some cases both are taking lessons with their pupils and have promised to continue the practise of the system in their establishments after we leave. One of them is a large Friends school (similar to the establishment at Ackworth)where we have a class of eighty including ten teachers...
    Croydon 15th March 1845

    On the page 86 it lists "Ackworth School -John Newby, class of 30, in the Girls' school."

    Margaret Couch
    New Zealand