This week, a quick review. Many of The International Institute for Genealogical Studies’ 230+ online courses feature exercises and assignments involving transcriptions and/or extractions. You will find that it is a foundational skill, used by those researching their family history, but especially, by professional genealogists.
A transcription is a true word-for-word rendering of a document with the original punctuation and spelling (i.e., an exact copy of the original, line by line, sentence by sentence, word by word, and letter by letter). All notes and marks on any page are copied as faithfully as possible in the presented formatting. It includes all spellings, capitalizations and punctuations as it was written. No corrections are made to spelling or capitalization. It includes the whole record—front and back, with all its headings, insertions, endorsements, notations, etc.
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.
General Rules for Extracting
- Include the full source citation for the original document with the extracted information.
- Extractions are a transcription and therefore, a true and accurate reproduction of the written original.
- Always include all and full headings (document or column headings).
- Ensure you read through the whole document to understand it completely. Don’t miss important clues.
- Be wary of extracting partial information. Watch for connected entries.
- In an alphabetical list, check that you have covered all possible spelling variations. Check the end of the list for additional entries.
- Many list-type documents have blank pre-printed forms available (ie census forms). Ensure all column headings agree with the original document. DO NOT forget to include any other pertinent materials.
- Information may be found on multiple pages within the document; Look beyond one part of the list (ie census information for one household started on the previous page or continued on the next page).
To dive deeper into Transcriptions and Extractions, register for our basic online course: Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting No matter which type of genealogical research you will be doing, you will absolutely need to develop strong transcription skills; it is unavoidable. Practicing with every document will reinforce your proficiency. There are no shortcuts; Transcription skills are developed and not just understood.
Reading old handwriting gets easier as you become more familiar with the structure of the letters within various scripts. The handwriting styles of enumerators, town clerks, and parish priests, will become more recognizable as you transcribe more of their entries in the records. Get to “know” them. Certain letters will always be written distinctly – make note of them as you transcribe. Making “Cheat Sheets” helps you to remember any unique characteristics the next time you need to search in the same records.
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.
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
Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting
Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents
The International Institute of Genealogical Studies offers quality online education with over 240 courses. Our wide range of courses covers specific countries, enhances methodology research, build skills to maximize your research time, and all count toward the certification you choose.
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