We’ve been struck by the similarity between transcribing old records – primary sources like birth registers, Wills and so on – and conserving old buildings.
People are very conscious these days of the vandalism that can be done to lovely old buildings by careless repair and remodelling. It’s time genealogists woke up to a similar menace. Once people start mangling primary sources, through careless copying and editing, they’re doing permanent damage, and future generations won’t thank them. Unfortunately, accuracy and faithfulness to the original are hardly guiding principles of some of the big, commercial genealogy sites.
An organisation promoting good practice in building conservation sets out principles of ‘conservative repair’ which, we thought, read across nicely to genealogical transcription projects:
The retention of genuine historic fabric and the avoidance of misleading restoration will allow present and future generations to interpret the significance for themselves in their own way and on the basis of physical evidence.
It says it all!