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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment

[Detail] Photographic Print of Tilton C. Reynolds, undated

Transcribing Correspondence

Transcribing handwritten historic correspondence makes the letters more accessible and easier for researchers to use. Creating transcriptions can be a challenging task, however. Read the "Transcriptions" section of "About the Collection."

  • What changes have the transcribers made to adhere to "modern conventions"?
  • In what ways have the transcribers maintained the "author's usage and style"?
  • What did the transcribers do when they couldn't read a word or words?

With a partner, choose a letter from the collection that has not been transcribed. Tilton's letter to his mother on September 6, 1864, is one possibility. Working individually, transcribe all or part of the letter you selected. Then compare your transcription with your partner's.  Discuss any differences you note with your partner and make any changes you think are merited. Then reflect on the following questions:

  • What was most difficult about the transcription process?
  • What skills did you need in order to do the transcription well?
  • How does this process make you better understand the document? The work of a historian?  The way writing and use of language changes over time?