Virginia Genealogy

Unrivaled Source for Note Taking

Chapter 16 in Professional Genealogy. A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, covers the topic of Note-Taking.  Entitled “Transcripts and Abstracts,” and written by Mary McCampbell Bell, this chapter offers rock-solid guidance on the taking of genealogical notes. It’s sorely needed by every researcher—professional or not—because everyone takes research notes. To quote Bell:

“Reliable research, reliable conclusions, reliable reports, and reliable publications all rest on one foundation: skill at note taking . . . This chapter focuses upon the two most essential note-taking skills: transcribing and abstracting. Both require familiarity with the mechanics of editing words. Both require us to understand the records we use and the boilerplate we find in them. For abstracts, we must also be able to distinguish between crucial details and excess verbiage. Toward that end, this chapter reviews note-taking principles and presentation styles. Examples from a variety of legal documents demonstrate how to transcribe and abstract—with step-by-step illustrations of how an abstract evolves.”

Utilizing facsimiles of actual documents and side-by-side conversions of the same, Mary Bell illustrates how to identify the key components in genealogical records, what to and what not to include in your transcriptions/abstracts, the clues that may be lurking there, special terminology found in various documents (deeds versus wills versus mortgages, etc.), and the editing conventions that can save us time and effort.

October is National Family History Month! Genealogy Connect contains a number of outstanding reference works to help your community identify deep historical connections while exploring their roots. 

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