Lessons Learned

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - LETTERS -

Like a lot of your read­ers I have be­come ad­dicted to fam­ily re­search, and al­though I am rel­a­tively new to this fas­ci­nat­ing hobby (only two years) it is clear how im­por­tant it is to share lessons learned with oth­ers.

One of the first lessons I learned while trac­ing my fam­ily tree in India is that it is easy to dis­miss bap­tisms which are a gen­er­a­tion out. For in­stance, the tran­scrip­tion gives you a bap­tism record of 1877 and you are look­ing for one in the 1850s, but when you look at the orig­i­nal doc­u­ment you see that it was an adult bap­tism and the date of birth is 1852. I have dis­cov­ered two adult bap­tisms in my fam­ily, both for an­ces­tors aged 25.

The other, and in my view more im­por­tant, les­son has been un­der­stand­ing how tran­scribers may mis­in­ter­pret an orig­i­nal doc­u­ment. The most re­cent one I have dis­cov­ered is that sur­names be­gin­ning ‘Fl’ are of­ten mis­tran­scribed as start­ing with an ‘H’, so the sur­names

Editor Replies: Thank you for shar­ing these tips Wil­liam. It’s not just hu­man tran­scribers who can get cer­tain let­ter com­bi­na­tions con­fused. I have also found that op­ti­cal char­ac­ter recog­ni­tion (OCR) strug­gles with some older printed ma­te­rial, and have some­times adapted my searches ac­cord­ingly. Have other read­ers found other let­ters or let­ter com­bi­na­tions reg­u­larly mis­tran­scribed?

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