My first attempt at a transcription from a taped interview was a very short excerpt from one, in readiness for a workshop day at The Barns Centre, Toddington to discuss the whole process of transcription.

I had been invited to attend by Craig, and everyone attending had been given the same extract to transcribe as a basis for discussion on our individual interpretation, format, layout etc. in order that a uniform format could be arrived at for future transcripts held at the Archive; it made for an interesting day, after which I decided to ‘have a go’ at transcribing a full interview.

I currently work as a Teaching Assistant, and have done so for the past fifteen years, but my ‘former life’ before I left work to raise a family was as a Secretary. I was therefore experienced in the skill of transcribing from dictation using either shorthand notes or from an audio tape, but the hopeful outcome of these transcriptions was in the form of letters, memos, reports etc. - as a means of communication within the technical world of alarm systems!

Therefore, to transcribe a taped interview between two people, one of whom is sharing aspects of their life, often including very personal thoughts and feelings, was a whole new experience to me, and I soon realised that the mere ‘mechanics’ that I already had under my belt, so to speak, only prepared me in part for this field of transcription.

Naturally, as in all types of work that involves interaction with people, every transcription is completely unique - both in its content and according to each individual’s personality, mannerisms, intonation of speech etc. - but one aspect is constant in all the transcripts I have completed so far, in that the recount of whatever part of their life they are sharing is extremely interesting and absorbing.

It is an exciting moment when I can personally relate to a characteristic of a particular era of time to which someone is referring, often in great detail, which evokes that same memory from within myself (but which I’m not sure I could have retrieved so readily)!

In summary, I feel privileged to be able to play a part in this complete process of documenting and preserving the many insightful interviews which are being shared with the Archive by so many different people.

Helen
July 2012