The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association’s annual event has taken on a new type of importance in recent years. Here’s how the day has evolved over the past four decades.
In a world where keyboards and smartphones have taken over, handwriting doesn’t always get a fair shake with the public.
But National Handwriting Day, an annual event put on by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) for more than 40 years, stands as a respite from the perfect typography and crisp layout of a computer screen. Held on noted signatory John Hancock’s birthday, it’s a traditionalist cry in a technology-addicted world.
“The best way to honor National Handwriting Day is by getting a pen and pencil in your hand,” WIMA Executive Director David H. Baker said in a recent news release. “Whether it’s a letter, a note, a story, or a drawing, start writing today to honor the importance of handwriting.”
A few more fun facts about the day:
It offers a counternarrative to recent education trends. As CNN noted in 2016, handwriting has been de-emphasized in recent years in many schools, especially cursive writing, which has been pushed aside in favor of standardized testing. While the event has been around since 1977, this has given it new momentum for advocates. “Its reason for being grows more urgent each year as pens, pencils, and paper lose ground to the QWERTY keyboard,” CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg wrote.
It’s officially recognized by Congress. In 2018, the day was designated as National Handwriting Day via a congressional resolution, something that WIMA had been trying to do for years. “It’s been something we’ve been trying to do for a long time,” Baker told Associations Now at the time. “Ironically, it’s something we were going to do on the 40th anniversary, but there was something called an inauguration last year, so that interfered with our plans.”
It correlates with a contest encouraging kids to write in cursive. Each year, the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation (AHAF) uses National Handwriting Day to kick off a contest for kids as a part of its efforts to help encourage the continued use of cursive writing by kids. The Cursive is Cool contest, beginning January 23 and continuing through March, offers medals and writing tools to winning cursive skills experts. These efforts and others have helped to make the long-term case for cursive. “Happily, by our count, 25 states in the USA now have requirements to teach cursive, with others producing legislation to do the same,” AHAF President Sheila Lowe said in a news release. “Our organization is proud to have helped.”