Transcribing: A Close Connection to the Past

In One Night in Norwalk – A Hitchhiker’s Tale, I told how I found entries in my grandmother’s diary of the night I arrived at her door after a failed attempt to hitchhike home from school.

I am lucky to have Grandma’s diaries, and other writings of hers. They have provided me an intimate window into her life – and told me what she thought of me. While transcribing them, I felt I became closer to her than I ever did while she was alive. And, while transcribing her words, I adopted a process that made her seem even closer; a process that is the subject of this post.

 

Harriott Wickham Memories

Photos: Harriott Wickham self-portrait, 1914; Commencement photo of the Class of 1907. Harriott Wickham earliest diaries: 1908-1909 (open); 1910 Tour of Europe (black cover); 1910-1914, Wooster College Years (red cover).

Early on, I formed the habit of transcribing Grandma’s letters, diaries, stories and other documents before I read them. Seeing the words for the first time as I typed them made it seem I was experiencing her thoughts as they had formed in her mind. Sitting at my desk late at night, or in the morning before dawn – my usual time for research and writing – I often felt as though Grandma was with me, directing my fingers as they moved across the keyboard of my computer.

Have you ever tried this technique? If you have not, I suggest you give it a try.

 

 

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