Exploring the Role of Transcription in Historical Documentation and Preservation

Historical documents are a key part of our society because they allow us to show what life was like 400 years ago, or 40 years ago. We can see what people dealt with during the dark ages or WWI. Preserving and cataloging these documents is often a lifelong vocation of many, and transcription is beginning to see more use as a way of assisting with that process and creating something which can help people to create better historical records which are both more accessible for a modern audience and properly preserved for years to come.

The Challenges of Historical Preservation

Interestingly, preserving and collecting historical documents often comes with more challenges than one might think. There are a handful of things to consider with parts of our culture that have been lost to time.

First of all, records for different parts of history are incredibly varied. Sometimes there are full documents containing names and dates of people who lived in the 1700s, and other times our only documents are barely legible scraps of paper which are on the verge of disintegration. Record-keeping hasn’t always been the primary focus of governments or other authorities which makes record-keeping harder than normal.

The other problem with historical documentation is that records can often be scattered. Half a document here, a letter there – piecing together a comprehensive record takes time and requires more than a dozen documents in most situations.

How Transcription Can Help

So, how can transcription help with the challenges of historical documentation? Well, having a transcribed record can be much more comprehensive than you think.

Instead of needing to collate hundreds of files, one person can simply draw up a script whereby they explain a given historical period. They can talk through it, offering their own thoughts and ideas, and create a complete record of a time period. Transcription can then take that record and use it to make a brand-new and properly formatted document. That document can be used for a range of different historical reports and be referred to by other experts in situations where transporting an ancient letter simply wouldn’t do.

Part of historical documentation, at least in our opinion, means that eventually there will be a need to create a more modern, comprehensive historical record of events to ensure that information isn’t lost. If a document is damaged or simply unintelligible after so many years, the information contained within it will be lost. That seems like a great shame.

Preserving Knowledge

At its core, historical documentation and transcription go hand-in-hand because they both aim to do the same sort of thing – preserve knowledge and provide a more accurate report of what has happened. The power of transcription is such that we can make a proper record of what happened a hundred years ago, and it can be kept for years to come. Singapore Transcription recognises the value of historical perseveration and hopes to do more work in this area in the future.