Monday, March 21, 2016

"All the transcriptions are accessible free of charge to the public"

The Boston Globe does a good job writing up the digitization of records almost complete at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds.

"In August 1822, John Adams, the nation’s second president, donated several pieces of land to his hometown of Quincy, including two pastures, several cedar swamp areas, and an 8-acre parcel that included the site of a former house built by John Hancock’s father. 
The details of the 86-year-old Adams’s gift, including his condition that a school be erected over the cellar of the old Hancock home, are contained in the land document he recorded in a personal visit to the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. Thinking ahead to his envisioned school, the elder statesman wrote, “I hope the future Masters will not be presumptuous if I advise them to begin their lessons in Greek and Hebrew by compelling their pupils to take their pens and write over and over again copies of the Greek and Hebrew alphabets.”

But anyone studying the nearly 200-year-old deed today might not be able to easily glean those reflections by Adams or the other particulars of the document. Handwritten in the flowing cursive style of the day, the densely-packed words are a challenge to read.
Now a nearly completed initiative by the Norfolk County registry is promising to make it much easier for modern readers to decipher the contents of the Adams deed and other old land records. In what officials say is the first project of its kind in New England, the registry in Dedham is transcribing into type all the county’s handwritten deeds from the time of its founding in 1793 to 1900, when the office switched to typing its documents."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

two old handwritten deeds on Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell's desk
two old handwritten deeds on Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell's desk (Boston Globe photo)

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