The cursive challenge

A gallery of pictures of the best and worst examples of handwritings I found in archives

A tidy, slender calligraphy for a baptism record.
The letter “s” is written as a descending letter
(see the name Giuseppe Alfonso and the word “professione”)
Year 1851, Mioglia, province of Savona – shot at the Diocese Archive in Acqui Terme

Now, imagine yourself searching through pages and pages looking like this…
Well it wasn’t an easy job, indeed. This tiny, monotonous, hardly readable handwriting in Latin was a challenge, at first, but then I got used to it.
Year 1802, Maggiora, province of Novara – shot at the parish archive

A quite unusual curly handwriting in a death records book.
I think it looks very modern compared to the typical cursive handwriting of that period.
The month of this records is December and if you have doubts about it,
check my article:
Year 1836, Lusiana, province of Vicenza – shot at the parish archive

The tiniest handwriting ever!
I didn’t have a ruler at the archive so I made a comparison at home using the same pen. The main body of the letters is 2 mm tall (5/64 in)!
Next time I will bring a ruler with me.
And also a magnifying glass!
Year 1806, Bernate, province of Milano – shot at the Milan Diocese Archive

Are old handwritings difficult to read?
Did handwritings change in time?
Were people writing in a more/less tidy way in the past centuries?
This shot is perhaps the best example I found to reply “IT DEPENDS” to all questions above.
In the same page of a notary’s deed dated 1562, an elegant, very readable example of calligraphy is followed by a completely different handwriting which is far less readable.
Year 1562, Rapallo – shot at the Genova State Archive