As this module has demonstrated, letters and other manuscript documents conveyed more to their original readers than factual information: from the quality of paper used, to the forms of greeting and farewell, compliments, and standard phrases, writers communicated nuances of social relationship and status. By paying attention to these details, present-day readers can deepen their understanding of the relationships and social dynamics between historical correspondents.


Access to historical manuscripts is normally temporary, or limited. Hence the module also underlines the importance and value to your study of accurate transcription. This means, not just noting details such as layout, address, and any later annotations, but also taking time to establish or check contextual information, such as the ODNB biographies of people mentioned. By putting into practice the skills learned in this module, you’ll create reliable resources which may be useful not just to yourself, but also to other scholars. 

Our thanks to the Bodleian Library for the use of the image in our banner: "William Green Jr. (fl. 1732–1752), Scene at an Oxford Book Auction, oil on canvas, 1747; Bodleian Library. Portrait LP.701, 1F.”