Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Transcriptions...More Than Mere Typing

I've done plenty of transcriptions on Sunday's Obituaries, Amanuensis Mondays, etc, but I'm about to be doing many more.  I need to figure out who all of the people are in the hundreds of clippings that have been passed on to me by my in-laws in Wisconsin.  Rarely is there any data on the clipping to show which newspaper it came from, but at least I know they are from Wisconsin papers and most likely close to the area mentioned in the clipping.  I also know that they were clipped by my husband's grandparents so the clippings reference someone that was important to them, either, family or friend.

Many times there is a handwritten date on the article, which is most like the date of the event rather than the date the article was published.  We as genealogists realize that the publication source and date are very important to write out, unfortunately when they articles were clipped the publication date was not at the front of the clipper's mind.

Anyway, I'm blessed to have these clippings (and plenty of them).  I've scanned the ones that were stored in a "magnetic" photo album (don't worry I saved them from that bit of preservation), but have not scanned the ones that have been glued into several old, large scrapbooks.  That's a bit of work still waiting for me.  I still need to figure out where all these people belong in my tree.  The easiest way I've figured I can do that and get the most out of it is to transcribe the clippings.

I'm a fairly fast typist and it's easy enough to minimize the screen with the image and the screen I'm transcribing to so that I can see both at once and get the job done faster than if I'm trying to switch between screens.  I won't lie and say that the transcribing itself helps me to figure out where each person belongs.  My brain doesn't work that way.  When I'm transcribing, I'm looking at words, usually out of context.  My fingers just fly across the keyboard and little actually registers.  I can transcribe an entire obituary and not really know what was in it, but it's the proof-reading afterward that does the trick.  I have to make sure I didn't make typos in the transcription, so I always check my work.  That's usually when I have those "ah-ha" moments and find where they may belong...or at least what surname I need to file them under so I can place them properly later, perhaps after another transcription.

Transcription isn't just about typing it into your program, blog, database, etc.  It really is a helpful tool for helping us figure out who belongs where in our family tree.  Now that I've come to terms with that it's time to get to work...


  1. Have you tried "Transcript" - I saw this recommended by another blogger some time ago (but I can't remember who). I think it really makes transcribing from a scan easier.

  2. Creative post. I just recently began doing transcriptions as well. A fun thing to do if you really love typing and you are right. I also like the fact that I'm reading a name several times, both with the typing and then the proofing.
    Also need to check out Linda's recommendation above.

  3. Thanks, Linda and Barbara!

    Linda I will be heading over to check that out right after trying to tackle my toddler. Refused to take him to Preschool this morning with an ice storm and may be regretting that decision! :)

  4. Caught my toddler and already transcribed an obituary with Transcript. Very nice. Don't have much experience with Rich Text files, but my Word can open it in compatibility mode so I'm happy. I think you've inspired a blog post, Linda! :)

  5. I've even found useful information in those old social notices about who attended this party or that dinner. I just wish I had similar notices from the early 19th c. before everyone was enumerated in the census listings!

  6. I would agree there, but sometimes finding those visitations was a matter of serendipity. I'm still glad they had them. A very enjoyable perspective on what our ancestors were doing and who they were doing it with!