Document Transcription

A big part of genealogy and family history is being able to read the documents you find. As handwriting styles have changed over the years, reading them is not always easy! Our modern eyes are used to the style we grew up with and this means that previous styles can look like a different language.

Transcription of old documents

Learning to read old styles of handwriting can take a lot of time, practice and patience. Transcribing them then takes further time.  If you are having problems with reading a document or don’t have the time to transcribe it yourself, I will be happy to help. I can make transcriptions of documents for you, currently going back to the 16th century.

The Transcription Process

Just like my family history research service, I give all clients a free initial assessment. This involves assessing the document you would like to be transcribed. I look at things like length of the document  and legibility of the handwriting. After this initial assessment, I can judge how long the transcription would take. So that I can get as much out of this initial assessment as possible, I ask each client for the following things:

  • An email with an attachment of a high-resolution, good quality image of the document (an image per page if multiple pages)
  • Image files saved in a JPEG or TIFF format (not PDF) are generally best
  • If using a scanner, please try to scan at the highest resolution available to you (this gives a better quality for transcription)
  • Where the document was found (i.e. which archive, any relevant document reference numbers etc.)
  • Who or what is it believed that the document relates to (e.g. specific family names and/or a specific location)

I try to perform each initial assessment within 48 hours of receiving an initial request, but at busy times his may take longer. Then I will contact you with an estimate of how long the transcription will take and the cost of the transcription.

The finished product will include the completed transcription and any appropriate notes about the transcription. I am happy to include a short commentary with background information about the document itself, should any client require it. Please include this request in your initial email. The final product will then be sent to the client via email, in a PDF format.


As with my other services, please contact me to discuss your needs. I will then be able to give you a quote for the transcription work that is required. When your project is complete, an invoice will be sent to you with all relevant payment details included. Payment is required within 14 days. Your finished transcription will then be sent after payment has been received. I accept cheques, Bank Transfers or PayPal payments, all in pound sterling (£).

Don’t forget that PayPal is a third party website, whose services I utilise. I do not retain your credit card details as they get processed through PayPal. Please see PayPal’s Privacy Policy for more information about how they handle your details.

What kind of documents do you transcribe?

As a professional genealogist, I focus on historical documents. These range from Victorian documents all the way back to 16th century ones. I currently only transcribe documents that are in English. The exception are Parish Registers that are written in Latin, although I may undertake others depending on the length and document type. Please do contact me to discuss your needs.

There are such a variety of documents available for genealogists and family historians to use. The following are just a few types of document that I can help you to understand:

  • Old family documents (including letters)
  • Parish records (including Parish Registers, Churchwarden’s Accounts etc.)
  • Wills (and related probate documents)
  • Records from local courts (e.g. Assize or Quarter sessions)
  • Plus many more…..

If you are unsure whether your document falls into any of the categories above, please contact me. I would be happy to discuss any queries you may have.

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