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Amanuensis: a person who writes what another dictates or copies what has been written by another

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have an ancestor’s journal, or a bundle of letters they wrote. Perhaps a grandparent recorded their memories on a cassette tape before they passed away.

Have you considered scanning/digitizing these documents into your computer, and transcribing the contents?


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 digitizing 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 compelled me to begin a transcription project in March of this year. Every Monday morning I have been posting some of these transcriptions on my blog. I refer to this as Amanuensis Monday. [Index of entries]

I encourage anyone with documents they wish to preserve to digitize and transcribe. If you decide to join me, and post some of these transcriptions on Mondays, feel free to add a link to your blog in the link box on my post, or in the comments section. [This post will not appear here at Genealogy Wise, but at my homeblog at TransylvanianDutch.] The newest entry should appear at 12:01 am every Monday (US Central time zone)

I have created a Genealogy Wise group for those interested in discussing the transcription process - the tools and methods we use, the hurdles we must overcome, etc.

Note: I realize ‘Amanuensis’ is an obscure word, but it derives from the Latin, ‘Manus’ meaning ‘hand’, which is also the root for the word 'Manuscript.'

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