Transcriptions are needed in all genealogical research. Transcribing Skills are included in the basic level courses for our students at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. All researchers must strive to acquire this core skill. There is no way around it. There are no shortcuts. We all must develop these skills and increase our effectiveness as researchers.
In last week’s post, we looked at finding Census Names with a few transcription tips. This week, we are continuing to look at transcribing census records by making a Census Extraction.
Extraction Definition: An Extract is when you pull out only parts of the information in an original document. The extracting process is normally used for listings, such as censuses, inventories, tax or voters’ lists, etc., where there could be information about one person or family amongst many others.
When making an extraction, always start with the full source citation for the original document. This is especially imperative when you are removing any information from its source as it is so easy to lose track of where you found it. How many times have you photocopied a page from a book without the reference and later could not remember where you found it? Be sure to include all of the details, such as page number, household number, etc., so that information can be located again at a later time.
Remember – Extractions are still a Transcription, and therefore, they must be a true and accurate reproduction of the written original. Always include all of the column headings. To make this process easier, you can use a pre-printed form to record all of the entries. This will ensure that you have not skipped any information. Record any remarks or notations added to the entry.
Make sure you include all of the information for the whole household. There can be more than one family living in that house, as well as other people. Examples of others could be boarders or lodgers, teachers, clergy, servants, etc. Include all of them in your extraction. There could be a connection that you discover at a later time. They will be part of their FAN Club.
Watch for Relationships. These are always related to the person listed as the Head of Household at the top of the list. You may glean clues to maiden names by noting a mother-in-law or brother-in-law. A sister with a different surname will reveal her married name. A widow listed as the Head indicates that her husband has died and you should look for a death record since the last census where he was listed. Sometimes a son will be listed as the new Head of Household with mother listed further down. Be careful to identify his children and his siblings accurately. Step-children may be mixed in with the other children; this indicates a second marriage. Make note of all relationships wherever possible.
Census household information may be split between pages. If the entry starts at the bottom of the page, always look on the next page; if it starts at the top of the page, look on the previous page. Find the Head of Household and continue until the next Head is listed. Include both page numbers in your source citation, but record your census extraction as one complete household entry. Each household should be recorded on their own census form.
Remember – Census Extractions are Transcriptions – an exact copy of one Household. They aren’t difficult, but you need to be thorough. Use census forms – they are useful tools and help you to record all of the information without going back to access the full census record for the whole community. By making a census extraction a household for each census year, you can then use them to document that family group every ten years, and analyze them over a certain time period.
Transcriptions are a valuable research tool, which every genealogist and family historian should be using regularly. You don’t need to be totally dependent on other transcribers. Learn to make your own transcriptions. PRACTICE transcribing your own documents. It is the only way to become more familiar with handwriting. And the Bonus is – you will become more familiar with the documents you are working with. You will see things you overlooked before, because it forces you to write out every single word. To further build your transcribing skills, check out our courses below.
As researchers, we have found that there are many skills we need to employ in order to achieve success in our future research projects. Transcription Tuesday will share guidelines and practical suggestions to help our readers to develop the skills for making effective transcriptions, abstracts, and extractions.
Transcription Tuesday previous blog post
Transcription Tuesday Index
These three core courses demonstrate Transcription principles. They are offered monthly, beginning on the first Monday of every month: Register today!
Methodology-Part 2: Organizing and Skill-Building (Basic Level)
Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting (Basic Level)
Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents (Advanced)
Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Check our Course Calendar here.
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