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Original Certificate or a Transcription Service?

Original Certificate or a Transcription Service?

What is better?
Is it better to purchase an original “hard to read” document, or an “easy to read” transcription?
The answer to this depends on your definition of the word “better” and that will change from one certificate to another and there are different situations in some states of Australia. 

The original documents in NSW might cost about $35 in NSW but the transcription services offer “the same” information for about half this cost. This is different in QLD as the original handwritten certificate might only cost $22.50 for a historical image and $31.50 for a transcripted certificate.  These costs and conditions are always changing so you need to check this before making your decision to purchase.

Details provided
The transcription is by definition, a transcription, an interpreted version of what was on another document.  An operator is engaged to type the information on another document which makes the information clearer to read. This can be a good thing but it is a secondary information source and is not an original primary source of information.

FIG 1 … This is an example of an original QLD historical handwritten marriage certificate
with names covered for privacy. 
FIG 2 …These are two zoomed enlarged images from the above document

The enlarged images above show that the bride claimed her age was seventeen (17) years on the original marriage certificate but the note added later in the margin states “In column 7, for 17 years read 15 years” so this is valuable information added later that might only be found on the original handwritten document. There are also other dates noted in the margin and these were later found to be valuable evidence for other events in this person’s family history research.

Some ‘simple and straight forward’ family certificates might be fine to save money buying the cheapest document but there are also times when the cheapest document may not provide the best result. Note that QLD historical handwritten images (as per the example above) are cheaper than the transcriptions but this is not the case in NSW.

As always, you need to do your research and use the experience and knowledge of others to save your money by buying the ‘best’ certificate rather than what looks to be the ‘cheapest’ certificate.

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