As you pursue your family history research, you will at some point, encounter difficult-to-read handwriting on a document of interest. Therefore, transcriptions should become a regular part of your research projects. Transcription Skills are developed by transcribing; there is no shortcut. Transcribing documents gives opportunity to make a clear and easy-to-read transcription for future reference and analysis. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offers a variety of course topics for developing these skills through record groups from various countries.
To become familiar with the handwriting of a certain time period, and in particular location, take some time to find out what script was being used. It may surprize some new researchers that not only were there different handwriting styles, but also scripts used only in certain settings. Finding these general rules will save a lot of time.
Our Basic Level course: Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting is a great place to start to develop your Transcribing Skills. As you go deeper and further back in time, you will encounter unfamiliar text and handwriting scripts. Our Advanced Level course: Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents will help you to meet these challenges and to eventually master the handwriting you will encounter in historical documents.
If you have Scottish Research, you will need to spend time exploring this website: Scottish Hanwriting.com, hosted by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). It is an online resource that provides tutorials for palaeography in the Scottish documents you will need to access.
In our Scottish Records Certificate program, we have courses that will examine topics requiring you to develop solid transcription skills. Here are a few examples.
Scottish: Old Parish Registers – Handwriting in OPRs will challenge you!
Scottish: Wills and Testaments – Legal Terminology and Inventories
Scottish: Special Aspects of Scottish Research – It is recommended to complete the Palaeography course before registering for this course.
Some helpful websites for Scottish Handwriting challenges:
ScotlandsPeople – Reading Older Handwriting (Palaeography)
Check out other Research Guides on the left-side menu of this page.
ScotlandsPlaces – Learn about Old Handwriting
FamilySearch – Scotland Handwriting
Remember – there are no shortcuts. But the more you practice, the easier it will become. Transcription Skills are learned by practicing. Become familiar with the handwriting of the time period and location where you are researching. Take the time to develop your skills and then discover what is really in those documents!
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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