Translation, Transcription, and Transformation
and the
People of Colonial Albany Live Here Website
in-progress thoughts by
Stefan Bielinski
[early in 2014]

Translation, Transcription, and Transformation are so-called technical terms describing processes we use in presenting source material (both in manuscript and in original printed form) on the people of colonial Albany and their world. For clarity, they are defined here as follows:

Translation: Technically refers to changing (or translating) the original language of a historic/original resource into useful/modern English. Most often, this relates to Dutch language resources. In that case, we have needed to rely on the translations published by at least one nineteenth century provider, by Arnold Van Laer (who we consider to be a first-generation professional translator), and by Charles T. Gehring - in our view the latest and last word on Dutch language items in all mediums. We are mindful that translation (like history) is not a perfect science. Judgment is required. That begs the question, who do you trust? Thus, we realize that we probably cannot mine the research bottomland where foreign language sources are involved. Fortunately, in 1691, the English colonial "visionaries" mandated that at least public (legal) proceedings (written and vocal) were to be conducted in English. In Albany city that requirement was widely adopted by the 1790s.

Transcription: The seemingly "simple" process of making an English language manuscript or a printed document into a readable and malleable text. Our first goal here is to first achieve a verbatim transcription - exactly as written or printed in some archaic (not machine readable) form. A pure transcription would be a lofty goal - as far as it goes!

Transformation: This process begins with a modern-type, Internet-ready, blemish-free offspring of the above. The so-called typescript is incorporated into HTML format. Nouns (persons, places, things) are defined/explained by linking them to other pages on the Website and to external sources as well. Then it becomes a page on the People of Colonial Albany Live Here Website.


Joel Munsell presented many translated items in his massive works on early Albany. At this point, we do not know if he utilized translations made by anyone else beyond Jonathan Pearson - his most obvious provider. Perhaps another translator could have been Albany native James Eights. We suspect that he did, but have not identified them as yet!

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first posted: 1/1/14