This past Friday and Saturday, I spent my time on campus getting started with transcribing letters. Tyndall’s writing is horrid (but what Victorian’s wasn’t?). There is a noticeable difference, however, between the writing in the letters written in the mountains (Alps) and those written in a city (Paris, London, etc.). Either he has better handwriting while penning his thoughts in a more suitable environment (in a city) than he does atop a mountain summit, or, as my advisor suggested, Tyndall had a transcriber for some of his letters. The first day I had much trouble making out certain words (I took WAY too long to decipher “Switzerland,” see image), but even by the second day I began recognizing certain ways that Tyndall wrote words or particular letters. Common in Victorian handwriting is the double S, and I have seen this throughout so far. Like the other graduate student who is working on this project at MSU, I started a “guide” to Tyndall particulars – how he writes his uppercase Ts, remember that he often connects multiple words, etc. (some “Tyndallisms” were given in the transcription directions). I will meet with Robin (said other student) this coming week to compare our blanks. After I am done with letters, I give them to my advisor for another check before being sent back to the powers that be.
While searching online for Tyndall information, I came across an archive for a radio program called Engines of our Ingenuity, which “tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity.” The program has featured John Tyndall several times: No. 192: Tyndall and Sound, No. 531: Tyndall and unruly Nature, No. 624: Tyndall, Science, and Religion, No. 642: Tyndall and Germs, No. 857: Tyndall on Parallel Roads, and No. 1067: Science, Religion, and John Tyndall, No. 1959: Tyndall, Mayer & Forebearance (each program is but a few minutes in length).