By Shannon Bennett, Student
This next section, Modules 3 and 4, of the course Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting was a close-up look at creating an abstract. For those of you who do not know what an abstract is, the instructor defines it as “an abbreviation of the original content in a document.” Simply put, it is the bones of the document with all the superfluous information taken away.
The instructor provided tips throughout the module to help you with your abstractions. One that I particularly liked was to count the names from the document and make sure you have the same number of names in your final abstract. Names, dates, places, and other pertinent information should not be deleted. At times you will need to quote large sections from the document, like with a land record. Sometimes it can be a bit challenging to figure out what is important and what is not, until you get the hang of it.
Part of me thinks this is where practice makes perfect. In this course, you will get a lot of practice from a variety of sources. Module 4 was only practice. I have said it before, abstractions and transcriptions are a bit of an art form, which once again comes with lots and lots of practice. How many of you have letters or documents that need this treatment? Bet your house is full of practice items just waiting for you.
I was pretty comfortable with abstraction before I came to this course. However, I know many of my classmates were not. If you take this course I highly encourage you to borrow or purchase the suggested texts. They are great resources for you to have on your genealogy bookshelf if you can get them. Also, and most importantly, they give additional examples, explanations, and a different point of view. I could tell the instructor had read all of the suggested reading materials, and that she thought the students should too.
For your reference, the suggested texts are:
BCG Standards Manual
Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians Chapter 16 edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills
Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry
Researchers Guide to American Genealogy, Chapters 2 and 20 by Val Greenwood
Check them out and prepare to take the course. You won’t regret it.
On to the final modules of the course.
See you online!