Transcribing documents is an almost last art among most genealoists. What with photocopy machines,microfilm reader printers, scanners, digital cameras and the whole attitude of instant genealogy on the web, the skill of transcribing is largely in the domain of the seasoned professional researcher. To bad for the web-based genealogists who never face this task. They may never know the true thrill of the hunt. What resources are there for teachers?
There is an excellant set of guidelines found at the Board for Certification of Genealogists website.
The BCG will allow teachers to make copies of this document for classroom use, but the source must be acknowledged. The article,"Transcribing Source Materials" by Elizabeth Shown Mills originally appeared in the BCG newsletter, OnBoard in June 1996 on page 8.
One of Ms Mills comments is that the transcription should appear in the same layout as the original. The same words on the same line in the same relative position.
After studying paleography until can read writing from any era, students need practice in doing the task, that is transcribing the document as they find it. This requires lots of practice because the point I mentioned from Ms Mills –transcriptions need to be laid out like the original documents– is slow to sink into learners' heads. As a teacher I would assign several practice exercises, discuss them in class, compared with model transcriptions, then test and retest.
One way to retest is error recognition. With a clear image of an original document, and a less-than-perfect transcript (save a few from past classes or create your own!) . Ask the students to pick that transcript apart. Next, provide an image of a document they need to transcribe and you pick it apart in marking. Do this with documents from each era, each handwriting style. Lots of practice and lots of feedback.
The difference between being able to read old handwriting and transcribing old documents is transcription extends paleography in to a reproduction of form and content– each carries meaning.
Your comments on other resources for transcription are most welcome.