Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Transcription of Letters

As objects, the June and Art letters are charming.  My mother’s letters looked like this:

And my father’s letters looked like this:

But there’s a large gap between “charming” and “useful.”  In order to make the letters more useful and accessible, they needed to be transcribed – manually reentered into the computer via a word processing program.

At some point, my parents had separated the letters, with my mother keeping her letters and my father his.  My first step was to combine the two sets of letters (his and hers) into chronological order.  I organized the letters, placing each with its corresponding envelope into a plastic sleeve and then ordering the sleeves into three 3-ring binders.

Then I started typing.  Fortunately, I’m a fairly fast typist.  And this task offered a good opportunity to become intimately familiar with the letters and the story they told.

At first, I attempted to faithfully and accurately reproduce the exact content of the letters, right down to the misspellings.  After entering the first dozen letters, I realized that the effort to capture the misspellings accurately was too time-consuming, nearly doubling the time it took to enter each letter.  Therefore, I switched to making basic spelling corrections as I went along.

The original spelling mistakes are preserved in the letters themselves.

The transcription in Microsoft Word corrects the misspellings, but otherwise faithfully captures the content.  The transcription process helps to ensure the long-term preservation of the content by maintaining it in at least two places and through two different media.

© 2010 Lee Price

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