Platt Rogers Spencer

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Platt Rogers Spencer

Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Dutchess, New York, United States
Death: May 15, 1864 (63)
Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio, United States
Place of Burial: Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Caleb Spencer and Jerusha Spencer
Husband of Persis Warren Spencer
Father of Sarah Louisa Sloan; Robert Closson Spencer; Lyman Potter Spencer and Persis Ellen 'Nellie' Mussey (Spencer)

Occupation: Calligrapher and penmanship teacher
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Platt Rogers Spencer

Platt Rogers Spencer (also Platt R. Spencer) was born in East Fishkill, New York, on November 7, 1800, and died in Geneva, Ohio, on May 16, 1864. Spencer is credited as being the originator of Spencerian penmanship, a popular system of cursive handwriting.

Calligrapher and penmanship teacher, he designed the first copybooks for school use in 1848.


Platt Rogers Spencer (also Platt R. Spencer) (November 7, 1800 – May 16, 1864) was the originator of Spencerian penmanship, a popular system of cursive handwriting. He was a teacher and active in the business school movement.

Early life

Spencer was born in East Fishkill, New York, on November 7, 1800. His father, Caleb, died in 1806, and the family moved to Jefferson, Ohio, in 1810. At the time, it was an unsettled area. Platt became passionately fond of writing. Because paper was difficult to obtain at the time, the boy wrote on birch tree bark, sand, ice, snow, the fly-leaves of his mother's Bible and, by permission of a cobbler, the leather in his shop.


In 1815, he taught his first writing class and, from 1816 to 1821, he was a clerk and a book keeper and, from 1821 to 1824, he studied in law, Latin, English literature and penmanship, taught in a common school and wrote up merchants' books. In 1824, he contemplated entering college with a view to preparing for the ministry, but, due to his alcoholism (aggravated by the prevalent drinking customs), he did not.

Spencer taught in New York, where he founded the Spencer Seminary in Jericho, housed in a log cabin. He also taught in Ohio, where in 1832, he was able to withdraw from alcohol, becoming a total abstainer. He advocated abstaining from alcohol for the remainder of his life. Soon after his reformation, he was elected to public office, and was county treasurer for twelve years. He was instrumental in collecting the early history of Ashtabula County, and was deeply interested in American history. He engaged actively in anti-slavery movements and was an advocate of universal liberty.

Spencer was instrumental in founding the business colleges of the United States and in promoting their growth and development. He combined there his work as a teacher, his system of penmanship for keeping business records and his leactures. Bryant & Stratton Colleges were founded in over 50 cities in the United States by students of Spencer, and Spencer was involved with the institution. In the winter of 1863, Spencer delivered his final lecture before the business college in Brooklyn, New York, and gave his last course of lessons in the business college in New York City. Spencer opened schools in Geneva and Cleveland, Ohio; and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


His first publications on penmanship were issued in 1848 under the title Spencer and Rice's System of Business and Ladies' Penmanship, working closely with Victor M. Rice, which was later published under the title Spencerian or Semi-Angular Penmanship. His other publications on penmanship appeared from 1855 to 1863. The New Spencerian Compendium, which was issued in parts, was completed in 1886.


The Platt Rogers Spencer Papers are located at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Spencer Archival Room of the Geneva Branch of the Ashtabula County District Library System contains biographical materials on the entire Spencer family.

Spencer also had the honor of having an elementary school named after him. In 1937, the East Geneva Rural School in Geneva changed its name to Platt R. Spencer School. Since 1961 it has served students in grades kindergarten through sixth.

On August 24, 2012, the city of Geneva, Ohio, unveiled the Spencerian Monument at the re-dedication ceremony for the Ashtabula County Western Area Courthouse.

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Platt Rogers Spencer's Timeline

November 7, 1800
Dutchess, New York, United States
June 22, 1829
Age 28
December 17, 1832
Age 32
Age 39
May 13, 1850
Age 49
Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio, United States
May 15, 1864
Age 63
Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio, United States
Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio, United States