Although I didn’t do any transcribing of this letter in particular, the transcribing of letters with our teams in class was an incredibly frustrating experience. We were asking each other what we thought each word was and, for the majority of it all, had no idea what Linn’s words said. Having no experience with transcribing before, I can say that it felt like being thrown into a new game on the hardest difficulty while being blindfolded and having to use the controller with your feet. Needless to say, I felt very fortunate to have to transcribe my own letter; however, as I looked at the transcribed letter and compared it to the original, I was actually making out the words much better. This left me with an understanding that transcribing is really just a skill like any other that can be polished through experience. I’m sure if I ever do more in the future it would get less and less frustrating.
Visiting the Archives was a really cool experience. It was almost surreal how much easier it was to read the physical letter as opposed to the digital images of the letter. The words appeared to be so much clearer and using a magnifying glass to enlarge the words proved to be significantly more effective than zooming on a computer screen. As for the tradeoffs of each, obviously it is much more convenient to have the digital version due to its portability, but as already mentioned the quality is decreased. The physical copy is easier to read and clearer, but in order to transcribe, one would have to visit the archives and view the letter. So in the event that one does not have access to the archives, one would have to rely on the digital version for transcription or somehow get in contact with someone that works at the archives to assist with the transcription.
In regards to the topics of Linn’s journal versus this letter, it appears that the people surrounding him are the main subjects of his writing. There is no journal entry after the date of my letter, but as for the one before, he’s describing Captain Shawl and his drunkenness. In the letter I encoded, he writes about all of the men he knew that had died in the previous battle. This small sample of Linn’s writing that I have seems to indicate that he rarely writes regarding himself, which is interesting because he’s writing for himself but not about himself. Also, it feels like Linn’s writing doesn’t carry much emotion with it. Both the way he writes about Captain Shawl and his fallen comrades have very blunt, unemotional tones. It makes me wonder whether he was just an unemotional person or if he simply lacked the skills to fully convey his emotions through his writing.
Maureen Maclean says
I totally agree with you that our group transcription process was frustrating. I was supposed to be the team leader yet I was equally struggling along with you and Yash. My only transcription experience had been with 16th century English print so I thought I would have the Linn letters in the bag but I was wrong. However, like you said, the more I read through the Linn letters the better I got at deciphering them. Our group exercise helped in this regard.
I also picked up on Linn’s hold and emotionless writing. I think this can be attributed to the fact that he was a lawyer- so he was effectively trained to be rational and emotionless (no offense to any pre-laws out there). I found this in my own letter which James addressed to John. The letter was just a set of instructions for John to pay people. He didn’t talk about his day or tell his brother he missed him- instead he was all business. Perhaps another reason for his stoicism is his upbringing; maybe the Linn household wasn’t very warm. Who knows, but Linn for sure was not a poet.