Can you read cursive? Volunteers sought to decipher Revolutionary War documents

In this age of computers, tablets, and "lessons in keyboarding", cursive handwriting has become something of a lost art.

Now people who are familiar with the fluid style of penmanship have the opportunity to help the U.S. government commemorate a pivotal period in American history.

The National Park Service and the National Archives and Records Administration are looking for people who can read cursive to help transcribe the pension records of more than 800,000 soldiers and their widows from the Revolutionary War.

The agencies say the volunteers will become "citizen archivists" who help uncover new stories to mark the 250th anniversary of the country's founding.

"I find that to be a very exciting renewal of interest in cursive writing that has fallen off in recent years," said Minnesota State Sen. Ann Rest.

Rest says cursive has fallen out of favor as schools have decided it's more important for students to learn how to use a keyboard. Minnesota no longer requires schools to teach cursive, but a few years ago, Rest sponsored a bill that would make districts that do teach it eligible for grants.

"I wrote my grandson a note on a special birthday and handed it to him, and he handed it back and said, 'Grandma, I can't read that,' so I had to read it to him aloud," explained Rest.

Rest says even if children are no longer taught how to write using cursive, they should at least be able to read it, so they can access important historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution or read letters from their own parents and grandparents.

She says understanding cursive gives us a unique insight into the past and is a skill that shouldn't be left in the dustbin of history.

"Certainly, I think it's a fascinating task and I believe that they will get a number of volunteers. If I know how to volunteer, I'll be one of them," said Rest.

To learn more about the program, click here