If you’ve been following along on the writing group posts, you know I have an Inquisition Post Mortem (IPM) to transcribe.

IPMs appear in the records when someone in the medieval/early modern period died intestate (that is, if you’re lucky they appear; sometimes you’re SOL).

I knew this thing was large.  And the lines are very long. Sir John wanted to see my new monitor, and I showed him how beautifully the IPM displays on it, and he was impressed with the clarity, but said something like “Holy Toledo!” about the size of it.  Anyway, I waded in and got on with transcribing.

Well, at a certain point it becomes a bit trying to count lines from the top of the page, so today I opened up the JPEG in Paint and put in line numbers.

Seventy-eight (78) lines.  Each line takes about 3 lines, sometimes more, of 12-point Times New Roman.  I don’t think I really wanted to know this.

The line numbering might have been a suitable task for an undergrad research assistant, if I had one, which I don’t.  Shoot, a patient 10-year-old could probably have done it just fine.  Having the numbers (4 sets of them, at beginning and end of each line, and two more sets in the middle, because, as I said, the lines are   l   o   n   g  ) will certainly help me keep my place as I transcribe.  Or even just read and take notes, but one reason I’m transcribing is that I keep losing my place, so the line numbers will actually be even more necessary if I do try to just read/note.

Anyway.  I’m a bit overwhelmed at the size of this thing, though it does look useful for the sorts of family relationships I’m trying to sort out, so it will probably be useful in the long run.  The hand is very legible and the Latin is no more than normally abbreviated.  It’s not that bad.  I’ve read worse.

No one has ever even printed this, let alone translated it; no shortcut is available to me.

I would really like to hurry up and finish the MMP (or, rather, the MMP-1 and MMP-2) and publish them and get on to the next thing and get to be a full professor before I retire.  How many of my colleagues have to get to transcribe or at least read 78 x 3 lines of early modern law-Latin in an Anglicana hand before they can get on with writing their articles?

How many of my colleagues even understand the question I just posed?

Actually, to be fair, probably 4-5 of them, and we have another person who works with non-Western alphabets and manuscript sources, so he’d get it, as well.  OK, I’m just whining.  It’s February, after all, and it’s in the 30s and raining, which is about the worst of all possible worlds, weather-wise.

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7 thoughts on “OMG OCD IPM

  1. This does sound very, very cool. I also understand the frustration involved in transcription, to which I can only say: frequent short breaks, preferably involving food and the adult beverage of your choice. At least you’re not stuck having to do it in a library or a cold archive!

  2. Oooh! You’ve given me a strategy for Star Chamber cases (a few of which I have to work on this summer). The real killer on the l o n g lines is that they are not always straight, so the ruler in the archive doesn’t always work….

  3. Love your last point. I keep a photocopy of a 15th-century Spanish Inquisition trial in my desk, precisely so I can whip it out in the middle of conversations where my 20th-century U.S. history colleagues complain about how tedious it is to read through their PRINTED ENGLISH newspaper archives or court records or whatever.

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