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T is for Transcripts, Extracts and Abstracts - 06/11/2013

Like many genealogists I have found myself from time to time transcribing handwritten documents which are difficult to read and often are either in another language or contain unusual abbreviations of words. I have up until now used my own methods to record when I have edited the transcription to provide clarity. For example, in my research of my wife's Huguenot ancestors in London the French Church records often have the abbreviation tem. short for temoin in french or witness in english. I have recorded these in my transcriptions as temoin with no indication of the abbreviation. I now understand this to be poor transcription practice. At this year's Who Do You Think You Are Live in February I found an amazing book called  Understanding Documents for Genealogy and Local History by Bruce Durie . The very first section of the first part of the book deals in detail with the process of transcription and how you record what you find so others can fully understand the transcription. The aim of a transcription is to "record exactly what the text in the manuscript says, with all its faults and imperfections retained". The most faithful transcription of a document is what is known as a "full diplomatic transcription" where every feature of the script has been captured including unusual spellings and capitalisations. The next further stage in the process of transcription is the "semi-diplomatic transcription" where the "transcriber makes changes in the interest...

T is for Transcripts, Extracts and Abstracts

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