Monday, April 6, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: April 6, 2009

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.
  • Is there a letter, journal entry, speech, other document, or audio recording, written or delivered by or about an ancestor you wish to transcribe for future generations?
  • Are you engaged in a transcription project of a city directory, or other historical document?
  • Is there poetry or prose by a favorite author you’d like to share.
Why transcribe?

1) Handwriting fades over time. As long as one continues to back up digital documents, they won't fade. (This is an advantage to both scanning and transcribing.)

2) Text can be searched. If you have word documents on your computer that contain transcribed letters, and you put a name into your computer's search function, it will find the name in the letter. This won't happen if the letter is a scanned image. Nor will it work for an audio recording.

These are the two primary reasons that are compelling me in my transcriptions, and why I encourage others to do so as well. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, please add a link to your post below.

(Please consider published works are possibly under copyright if originally published after 1923 in the US. The current minimum in countries adhering to the Berne Convention is fifty years after an author's death, though several nations go beyond this minimum. The copyright status of unpublished works such as letters can vary, though it is the author who retains the copyright, not the recipient.)


Ben W. Brumfield said...

I think the most heartbreaking thing we've transcribed from my great-great grandmother's diaries was from this entry for April 1, 1921:

I gess I have burnt
over a hundred papers
today. Lizzie put them
a way for her father.
I though some one would
burn them. If I did
it would not trouble
no one else and the
children would not
let them alone and
Josie did not care.

The "papers" she refers to burning would have been her correspondence with my great great grandfather during the Civil War. One wishes for an "april fool" at the end, but sadly it isn't there.

John said...

That's a wound many of us can empathize with. My maternal grandmother and her father wrote each other weekly. I have most of the letters he wrote to her. I don't have the letters she wrote to him.