Once you find your first documents and overcome the joy of finding them. It can be discouraging that you may not be able to decipher them. I mean decipher since some are very hard to read, specially when you do not know what the document contains. I won’t lie to you some are super easy to read but there are some that it does take considerable skill and knowledge. It took me several months of practice to really start transcribing documents with ease.
Even at that I can not transcribe all Spanish documents, the ones I have no problems with are Mexican Church, and Civil documents. Don’t tell me to transcribe any other Spanish speaking country because I can’t. One thing that does help allot is looking at the other documents next to the one that I am trying to transcribe and sometimes that helps make out the words, since they are similar and may be more legible.
Here are the sources that I used to learn to transcribe Mexican Spanish Church and Civil Registry Documents. The tutorials are provided free of charge by BYU (Brigham Young University) Center for Family History and Genealogy. The following tutorial will help you get familiarized with Spanish parish records. It also contains an index of given names, surnames, abbreviations, Glossary of Spanish terms, occupations, and Racial designations
Check the tutorial here, you can chose between Spanish and English
Other Excellent Guides
Spanish Genealogical Word List – This list contains Spanish words with their English translations. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources.
Transcription Rules & Techniques – Abstracting & Transcribing Genealogical Documents, By Kimberly Powell.
Handwriting Helps by FamilySearch.org – They have three lessons dealing with Handwritten Letters, dates and words, and Documents.
Software To Help You Out
The one that I use personally is Transcript 2.3 for it’s ease of use and features.
I hope that you may have found all these resources useful and helpful towards having you do your own transcription and hopefully your own translations. At first, as I mentioned before, it will be hard and sometimes frustrating but don’t get discouraged.
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