With many conferences postponed or cancelled, I have been taking advantage of the online courses included when signed up for the National Genealogical Society Conference 2020. One that I just finished focused on the importance of transcribing your genealogy documents. Let’s look.
Julie Miller, CG®, CGLSM, FNGS presented an excellent course entitled “Transcribing Documents: An Essential Skill for Genealogists” where she included information on best practices, tips, tools and ideas. The National Genealogical Society is offering a course “Transcribing, Extracting, And Abstracting Genealogical Documents” which Julie Miller has authored. It is available for both members and non-members to purchase.
According to Julie Miller, when you transcribe an original record, you are making a complete exact copy of the document, from written to typed. Since I started genealogy long before everyone had a laptop, much of my transcription work was focused on the facts within the document and often written by hand into my notebook until I could include the information into my family tree and eventually wrote and typed a family history book. Sound familiar? I realize now that I have missed opportunities to be more thorough and to create a handy document that I can reference without going back to the original each time. I see more transcription of old research records ahead!
Like me, you have spent time thoroughly reading the information and ensuring that you understand the documents. By carefully transcribing a document, we might look at the information differently. Perhaps a witness in a marriage document meant nothing to you when you first acquired the document but now after transcribing you realize that this is person might be the link to another branch of the family or a new way to attack a brick wall.
Have you struggled to transcribe a printed document while typing into your laptop? Word allows you to pin documents side by side but that has not always worked the way I hoped when dealing with an image and a word document.
Two tools for transcribing that you may find beneficial are:
1. Transcript which is free for personal use on windows. If you are using to transcribe for a business or clients, there is a professional version available for purchase.
2. GenScriber According to the site GenScriber “is a transcription editor for genealogical, historical and other records. Templates for church and civil index records are included.”
Other helpful tips regarding the transcribing of genealogical documents can be found at the FamilySearch Wiki: Transcribing Historic Documents (National Institute).
I hope that this has given you some ideas about how you want to approach transcribing your research finds. Choose a couple of key documents to get started—discovering new information (that was there all the time) hopefully will entice you to tackle more. Happy transcribing!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.