Transcribing Documents: There is More Than Meets the Eye!

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, FASG
Apr 16, 2019
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Learn about BCG
4m 42s
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Speaker's Introduction
2m 28s
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3m 38s
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11m 43s
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Legal or Other Context
8m 43s
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Genealogy Standards
2m 03s
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Condition of Document
5m 47s
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Accuracy Aids Analysis
1m 34s
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Cite the Source
2m 39s
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1m 26s
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Obsolete Letter Forms
1m 50s
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Third Party Transcriptions
2m 24s
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U.S. Census Records
7m 18s
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Practice by Volunteering
2m 31s
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Questions / answers
18m 13s

About this webinar

Genealogical proof requires the conduct of reasonably exhaustive research, preferably using original records. The emphasis on original sources means that the interpretation of handwritten records is an essential skill for genealogists. Using a variety of pre-20th century American documents, this webinar provides useful tips on the creation of a transcription–the first step in analyzing a handwritten document.

About the speaker

About the speaker

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson was elected as a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) in 2016 and served as President from 2019-2022. She was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists in October 2021. She enjoyed a 3
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    A very clear presentation on a difficult to decipher subject.

    Always learn something new.

    Brilliant webinar which helps to teach that it is always a must to read and transcribe our own documents.

    Comprehensive and informative! Even though I have transcribed many documents before, there are always new things to learn and standards to revisit and review!

    Covered the subject and techniques of transcribing documents very well. THANK YOU!

    Dr. Garrett-Nelson’s webinar gave me a better understanding of why transcriptions were incorrect.

    Examples and explanations were very helpful.


    Excellent – answered many of my questions.

    Excellent examples and information!

    Excellent information! I will do much better at transcribing records now.

    Excellent presentation by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson. I submitted my portfolio about a month ago. I hope it is alright to continue participating in the webinars and other learning presentations.

    Excellent presentation with wonderful examples.

    Excellent Webinar – very helpful to me.

    Excellent, applicable for various experience levels. Really helpful examples and recommendations

    Excellent.. She explained examples in detail. Thank you.

    Exellent presentation and awesome information. Will really help me understand the process of reading old documents. Thanks!

    Fantastic information! Very instructive.

    Garrett-Nelson’s presentation was excellent! The material was explained clearly and succinctly.

    Good presentation of transcribing.

    Good reminders

    Good variety of examples to illustrate the challenges of transcription.

    Great examples

    great examples of the trouble with interpretation of the old language differences and current. good advice.

    Great idea about volunteering to do transcriptions!

    Great information! Made the subject more accessible.

    Great Job

    Great presenter with excellent examples and explanations.

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    great topic

    Great, hands-on webinar. Enjoyed looking at actual document and the writing style of the particular “enumerator” or author.

    Great,great information!

    Having never transcribed a document, I thought the instructions were very well thought and presented. Thank you for speaking slowly (for me) in presenting this info.

    Helpful. I have some original Civil War letters from a 2nd great uncle to transcribe.

    I appreciated LaBrenda’s examples of words and names that could easily be misconstrued, such as John for Tom and Elissa Powell’s Dubois for dautu[?]rs. (I forget which vowel was used after the t.) The red arrows also helped to point out words on which LaBrenda was commenting.

    I appreciated the in-depth comments by LaBrenda. Eye opening.

    I felt LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson provided many great suggestions and advice with useful examples to help in transcribing documents. I have, through trial and error, taught myself and used many of these strategies. So much of my research is similar to the webinar examples as much of my personal research has been in 18th and 19th century North Carolina. Exposure and practice is where I have benefited and LaBrenda’s advice to volunteer to for opportunities to practice is spot on. Great webinar! Thank you!

    I found all the information and suggestions helpful.

    I found answers to many questions that I didn’t even know I had!! La Brenda is so good at this. I hope she does more webinars.

    I greatly appreciated Ms. Garrett-Nelson’s pace and deliver style. I often find speakers going too fast for me to take my handwritten notes. Also, the breadth and depth of her knowledge about the subject was so helpful.

    I have not done a lot of transcription. I would feel a lot braver doing it now.

    I previously took a class on transcribing documents but this excellent presentation actually reinforced information and taught me several new things, but most of all it made me more aware of how important it is to transcribe records as well as to question transcribed records that I am using.

    I really learned a lot!

    I really liked the examples of deciphering tricky handwriting.

    I sat in on your NGS session on transcribing but I was way in the back. This webinar allowed me to learn what I missed from sitting so far away.

    I started late, so i’m planning to re-view the whole session when it’s put into the library. What i did see was very swell structured, clearly presented and explained.

    I would have given it a 5 except that I already trained myself do transcribe exactly the way LaBrenda explained how it should be done, and why. If I hadn’t been doing this already, I would give this a 5.

    I’m working on transcriptions now for genealogy courses and I found seeing her point out words and showing how to look for similarities made a lot more sense than just reading a book. She had a lot of good pointers. And her presentation seemed to be just the perfect pace. Thank you!

    interesting good reminder to review and check all transcriptions

    Interesting and informative. Very glad I spent the time learning this. Will try to help on some of the projects.

    Interesting and well done.

    It confirmed a lot of my practices and encouraged me to do more. I loved it!

    It was much more interesting than I anticipated. LaBrenda made a dry subject interesting.

    It was very helpful and practical in both reading and transcribing records and documents.

    Just what I needed!

    La Brenda used good examples.

    LaBrenda always gives a very informative and interesting program.

    LaBrenda did an excellent job of pointing out difficult letters/words and illustrating how she analyzed and determined the correct letter/word from other characters in the document. I appreciated the idea of entering [illegible] when you just can’t figure out what the document says.

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson was very informative. Thank you.

    LaBrenda had some amazing examples (as Geoff mentioned) and I have to say, her slides were spot on. Very good webinar.

    LaBrenda is superb!!

    LaBrenda organized her material well and provided great insights with her delivery.

    LaBrenda presented well and not only reinforced the good things I’m currently doing when transcribing but also alerted me to other steps I should be taking. This was an informative and worthwhile webinar.

    LaBrenda was easy to understand and kept everything so interesting! Lots of great tips and tricks. Thank you so much!

    Lots og good information.

    Met my expectations. Thank you.

    My ‘trial’ webinar through BCG, and I couldn’t be happier or more impressed. Thank you. And thanks, Geoff, for the email reminders.

    Nicely done, with good examples.

    obviously an exceptionally knowledgeable presenter! appreciated the time taken to explain everything. transcribing is NOT simplistic and should be completed with great caution.

    Outstanding webinar and presenter.

    Presenter was very through in her research and it showed in the presentation. I have two others of hers I plan to watch in the near future.

    Really enjoyed seeing examples of archaic handwriting and tips on how to handle the transcription of such. Great webinar!

    Really enjoyed the visuals

    Really enjoyed the webinar. Now I understand what I was trying to read and why I couldn’t make out the words. Knowing about context and how writing developed helps to make sense of what I was seeing. Thank you!

    Seeing the original document and how words that are hard to read can be determined by looking at other known words is so valuable. I transcribe Revolutionary War records for DAR and use this technique. Also the abbreviated words, especially names is important to to be aware of. I will be buying Sperry’s book, and am looking forward to reading it.

    She provided some good ins & tips, thanks! Great topic!

    She provided very good samples for us to analyze. Her examples pointed out the need for doing the work well.

    She speaks well. I appreciated the examples of poor writing and how she figured out what the letters were.

    SUPER!!!! Great speaker. Easy to understand what she was trying to explain. Great examples for transcribing documents.

    terrific examples!

    Thank you for all the good info!

    Thank you for this webinar. I will need to purchase a couple of books.

    Thank you, a great webinar. It is a true challenge to read other peoples writing at any time in history. This webinar gave us a “heads up” on ow to interpret it.

    Thanks LeBrenda

    There were good examples.

    This was a valuable and well illustrated review of important points that might go forgotten. I’m so glad I attended.

    This was an excellent webinar. The examples were wonderful and illustrative of the issues I have come across and then some. Will find this useful in future!

    This was one of the best webinars where I learned a lot…thank you. I will look for other webinars or presentations that LeBrenda does.

    Very clear commentary – most enjoyable.

    Very clear presentation w/good examples

    Very detailed and specific information. Very helpful and speaker was very clear in explaining the information.

    Very educational.

    Very enlightening. A good experience.

    Very good examples in the presentation. Also, very good Q&A information as well!

    Very good information. We will be using this information for sure. Thanks for a nice way to spend the evening.

    Very good lecture, her examples were superb!

    very good webinar

    Very good, well layout and presented….learned much!

    Very helpful information to remember and follow.

    Very helpful slides illustrating the exact challenges I encounter and how to “translate” and transcribe.

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    5 years ago

    Very helpful!

    Very helpful. Great examples!

    Very helpful. Thx

    Very informative

    very informative

    Very informative and an excellent presentation.

    Very informative and helpful to remember when reading old documents.

    Very informative and provided helpful tips.

    Very informative and well-presented

    very informative webinar

    Very informative!

    Very informative, learned a lot from her examples.

    Very informative. Excellent!

    Very informative. I like the examples and especially the example regarding “Tom”. Makes one stop and think.

    Very interesting

    very interesting how writing and spelling has changed over time.I have had a go at transcribing some documents relating to my family and it took some time but eventually made some sense.thank you for the webinars.

    Very interesting.

    Very organized. Topic was simplified in a way that made it easy to understand. Thank you.

    Very solid content; well explained. Great examples. Thank you.

    Very useful, speaker exceptionally articulate and many thanks for the handout

    Very valuable. The emphasis on transcribing your own from original records is tedious but gives the complete picture. I am humming and haaing as a volunteer transcriber. Do I need certification first? (I am Australian)

    Very, very informative. Thanks for all the examples and explanations.

    was very interesting. Learned quite a few things that are sure to help when I come across any hand written documents.

    Well organized and complete.

    well organized and presented.

    Well presented webinar. Thank you!


    Wonderful presentation. Especially helpful on how to format transcriptions and on archaic letter forms. I needed that! Now we need a webinar on abstractions!


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