Transcription Instructions and Tips
To begin the transcription process, click on the letter of your choice. You will be taken to a page that allows you to view the individual pages of that letter. Access the first page by clicking on the image furthest to the left. The letter will appear in your viewer at which point you are ready to start transcribing in the box located below the image. To adjust your view of the letter, use your cursor and/or the icons located in the upper left-hand corner of the image box. When you are finished typing, save your work by clicking on the red "save edits" tab located beneath the transcription box. Once you have saved one page, move on to the next page by clicking the "next" tab located below the "save edits" button. Note that pages marked as "needs review" may not be complete, and you are welcome to check the work done so far or pick up where the previous transcriber stopped.
- Do not format. The transcription program does not respond to formatting attempts (line breaks, column, etc). If the letter’s format is significant please make note of it in brackets [crossed out writing] and then move on.
- These letters may contain both horizontal and vertical writing on the same page. In many instances, the vertical writing is the continuation of thoughts from a previous page. Do not attempt to place this text in its “rightful” context within the transcription. Simply transcribe the text in the order that you read it on the page while bookending it with a style note in brackets, “[vertical writing]” insert text “[vertical writing end]."
- Do not correct the text. Transcribe exactly what you see.
- Indicate words that you cannot decipher as “[illegible]” and words that you are not sure about as “[uncertain]” words by using brackets, e.g. "[Chicago?]".
- Do not transcribe hyphens or spaces in words that occur at line breaks.
- Consider the context of the letter in order to decipher words, but do not guess. Look for similar words or letters in the text that could be used to decode the word you are struggling with.
- Consult the metadata of the letter and the Newberry’s finding aid for more context including proper names and dates.
- Be aware of contemporary spelling and abbreviations. Common eighteenth and nineteenth-century abbreviations and their full spellings include: inst. = a date in this month (e.g. the 15th inst.); ult. = a date in the previous month (5th ult.); &c = et cetera; Common “misspellings” and writing conventions: ware = were; thare = there; verry = very; evry = every; evning = evening; perhapse = perhaps; attacted = attacked; fiew = few; greaddeal or great eal or gread eal = great deal; fs = ss (e.g. mifses = misses); do = ditto.
- Common Civil War abbreviations: QM = Quarter Master; Capt. = Captain; Lieut. or Lt. = Lieutenant; Maj. = Major; Col. = Colonel; Prov. Gen. = Provost General; Adjt. = Adjutant; Regt. = Regiment; Adjt. Gen.=Adjunct General; Brig. = Brigade; Cav. = Cavalry; Inf. = Infantry; Vols. = Volunteers; Col. Inf. = Colored Infantry; R.R. = railroad; HdQrs. = Head Quarters; Reb.=Rebel; Secc./Secesh.=Secessionist
- "Some of the historical documents presented on this website may contain offensive language and negative stereotypes. These items are being presented as part of a historical record, and the Newberry Library does not endorse the views expressed in these documents."
- Please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more specific questions/problems.