Saturday, December 01, 2012

Brown University Students Crack Roger Williams' Shorthand Code

U.S. and World News Report has published a story about Brown University students cracking the shorthand code that Roger Williams, founder of the First Baptist Church in America and founder of Rhode Island Colony, used to make notes for himself. Here's what they discovered:

Williams' system consisted of 28 symbols that stand for a combination of English letters or sounds. How they're arranged is key to their meaning; arrange them one way and you get one word, arrange them another, you get something different. One major complication, according to Mason-Brown: Williams often improvised.

From there, Mason-Brown was able to translate scattered fragments, and the students determined there were three separate sections of notes. Two are Williams' writings on other books, a 17th century historical geography and a medical text. The third — and most intriguing — is 20 pages of Williams' original thoughts on one of the major theological issues of the day: infant baptism.

1 comment:

linda said...

What a fascinating story! When things like this happen, I feel inspired to be alive in the world...it restores my faith a little bit in humanity to see people using their brains and persevering and learning and accomplishing. Thank you for sharing!