Sources and Brackets

I have been in Salt Lake City for two weeks for a variety of reasons. As I have researched at the Family History Library, two pet peeves keep cropping up. In reality, these should not be regarded as pet peeves, rather as missing or erroneous information in record compilations. I have looked at abstracts and transcriptions of many records including cemetery, probate, marriage, and obituaries. Whenever possible, I also view the original record on microfilm if it is available at the FHL.

It isn’t always possible to tell where the information came from, i.e., was it from another publication, a family file, personal knowledge, from a record book or microfilm at the courthouse, state archive, or a FHL film?

The other item is the misuse of parentheses when doing transcribing or abstracting. If you add some details from personal knowledge or other sources to the information being transcribed or abstracted, brackets [ ] should be used to enclose such explanatory or additional details. Use the parentheses ( ) if it occurs in the original record.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly appreciate all the work that goes into such projects, but just wish some parts were a bit easier to understand.

© 2009, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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One thought on “Sources and Brackets

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the comment about brackets. That’s one of the rules inexperienced translators (and researchers) have a hard time remembering. It’s very important to be able to distinguish what was actually in the original document and what is a comment.

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