Tuesday’s Tip – My Best Transcription Tip

Old letters and postcards in my ancestor’s handwriting are enough to keep this genealogist happy for a long time!

1912 Postcard from Howard Roberts To Esther Richardson

1912 Postcard from Howard Roberts To Esther Richardson

I am progressing well toward my goal of transcribing my great grandmother’s correspondence.  There is a lot of it and I admit to feeling a little cross eyed after spending too much time reading the 100 year old handwriting. Most of the letters are written in pencil and fading. That is one of the reasons I feel an urgency to transcribe the correspondence.  Of course, I want to glean as much information from them as I can.

Transcription is not always easy. Faded writing, poor handwriting and misspellings all tend to slow down the process.

What is the one thing I do that helps me the most?

I read the letter out loud – as many times as necessary.

Here’s an example:

The word “youal”  appears frequently in the writings of my southern Virginia ancestors. In some cases the “y” resembles a “z”.  For the longest time I was not sure what it meant. Reading the letters out loud I realized the word should be  pronounced “you all”. My ancestors spelled phonetically if not always correctly.

Another thing that helped me in the case of my southern Virginia ancestors is that I am familiar with the accent of that area.  It is not that different from the NC accent.

So, whether transcribing a lot of personal correspondence or a sinlge document, read it out loud. I think you’ll find this helps!

*I am participating in the daily blogging prompt Tuesday’s Tip over at Geneabloggers.com.

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