It has been some time since my last posting. Today seems a good day to bring things up to date. Our snow this February day seems like a good time to stay indoors and write about transcribing old handwritten diaries.
It is time to regroup and begin sharing the diary transcribing project I mentioned in one of my earlier postings. Transcribing the Julia (Clark) Forbes 1873-1876 Diary. But first, let’s talk about “why” it is important to transcribe those heirloom diaries, journals, papers that are in your family.
Transcribing a handwritten (in pencil) diary isn’t the easiest of projects, but it is interesting and something that needs to be done.
There are old diaries, journals, handwritten treasures in many families and these items need to be transcribed and shared with those genealogists, historians, family history researchers and any interested person who might otherwise never know about these gems. The flip side is that many families would be honored to share these treasures, but do not want to give up the opportunity to pass down, in their family, these original documents for future generations of family members.
Some might say, well, there’s no one in my family who is interested in history or genealogy. My answer is, maybe that descendent of yours hasn’t been born yet who has that burning interest to know and understand the trials and tribulations their ancestor lived through. Their everyday lives and how that ancestor felt and understood their place in time.
Repositories are anxious to have that original handwritten item donated to them. But, what happens to that original when shelving space becomes limited, someone other than the person you contacted for the donation of your item is in charge of decision making and decides what is to be scheduled for de-ascension?
Digitizing? Perhaps, but not always. Again, we are speaking of handwritten, mostly difficult writing, damaged pages, punctuation …sometimes…sometimes not… to read through. Also, some bound material just cannot be digitized or scanned for fear of damaging it. What about Optical Character Recognition (OCR)? Using OCR it is practically impossible, if not, in some cases, impossible to pick up every nuance of the author’s style, mistakes, and hurried jottings.
Sometimes this can be done, but the expense to the individual would be very costly. The only way to get every “mark” of the author into text is to have someone diligently and with much care, transcribe word for word the document.
Handling the item is also something that needs to be addressed. Some of these vintage items are extremely fragile. Repeated handling by many is an obvious concern. One person, with the mission in mind, to care for the item and transcribe as accurately as possible the time, place, sense of the author’s moods and penmanship, while keeping the physical integrity of the item is of prime importance.
Keep in mind when having a precious heirloom transcribed, if you attempt a project like this yourself, which is very time consuming and can be overwhelming, practice good care. Treat that heirloom as if it were the only one in the world. Because….in most cases, it is. If you have someone accomplish this task for you, make sure it is someone who will treasure and care for the heirloom as if it were their own.
Then, after the transcribing has been completed, share the COPY with the repository of your choice in a form that can be easily read and researched by those who are looking for that “one little nugget to break down their brick wall” or who would like to understand how folks lived in that time and place. They will be so grateful and appreciative.