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In modules 5 and 6 of Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting we learned about extractions.  It is a similar concept to an abstraction but not exactly the same. Trust me, I am sure you have used them both, but you may not have realized the distinction between the two.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Similar to an abstraction, an extraction looks at only a specific part of the document you are reading.  Items that would get an extraction, instead of an abstraction, would be census records, lists, inventories, manifests, and so on.  For those examples you extract the information for specific people or items that you are researching. There is no need to have (at that moment) the entire document abstracted or transcribed.

To be honest, I never knew there was another type of abstraction. I use extractions frequently in my family research. They are very, very handy when processing multiple census records, bible records, or various family items. Having the pertinent information at hand, without the chaos of a whole transcription of abstraction, has helped me correlate and analyze data easier.

Besides learning about extractions we also were given more, lots more, practice. Once again, and you are probably tired of hearing this, practice is awesome!  I loved looking at records which I normally wouldn’t come across. My ancestors have been in the US for centuries so what I think of as common records are probably unique to others, and vice versa. Looking at unfamiliar record sets keeps you fresh and on your toes since you can’t just assume you know what it’s telling you.

Honestly, that is probably the best way to learn about these skills too.  We should all try to practice more with unfamiliar documents to hone our skills and push ourselves. If not overseas records, how about helping out a friend by looking at their records? Each family unit has to have a unique record or two hiding somewhere.

By Shannon Bennett, Student

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