Shorthand Transcription Service

Pitman’s New Era Shorthand TranscriptionThis is me!








*** Updated 16 October 2020

I'm am making a start on redoing my website.  My friend Max is helping me and I hope to make this more modern and not quite so  messy!  I will be writing a history of Sir Isaac Pitman and other prominent shorthand people and I have been in touch with the Pitman Collection people at Bath University and they have given me some good info and permission to use anything on Wikipedia.  The software I have been using to upload to this site is so out of date and difficult to use that I have made the decision but now need to get moving.  This may take time but I think it will be worth it.


This was a good job - I have been working with Beehive Books in Philadelphia writing in shorthand the Jonathan Harker journals from Bram Stoker's Dracula.  It was a most fascinating project and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, I really got hooked on the story.  Anyway here is a lovely reference from the company ...


Beehive Books Ref


I have recently completed the transcription of the journal belonging to a lady during what I can only describe as pioneering years. It was an insight into the life of a young woman who worked extremely hard but I think she had a fulfilling life too!

“ Hello Tracey,

Just wanted to take a few minutes to tell you what a wonderful job you have done on transcribing the 1851-1855 shorthand diary left from an ancestor. We were excited to find out from the Bentley Historical Library of the University of Michigan, U.S. that there was an additional 70-page diary, but our hearts soon sank hearing it was in shorthand. Finding you was a blessing! Thank you for all your hard work, for your patience with us constantly sending lists of names and places and for so kindly answering endless questions in working with us to allow the present and future generations of our family to have this account of their lives in the 1800s in America.

So, for anyone reading this with diaries or writings written in shorthand, take heart because this wonderful woman in the United Kingdom can open up a whole new world for you too!

Thank you, Pat “



This is the referenced I received after transcribing an 1860 letter written during the American Civil War ...

Nichols reference


All my references  are under Other Stuff

 I now have an expert contact for Gregg shorthand so although I only do

Pitmans transcription my friend will do all the Gregg work.


I was very pleased to receive a testimonial from a lovely man I had the privilege to work with in January 2016.  This is what he wrote ...

“Tracey was able to help me at very short notice when I discovered that my late wife, who had just died, had left me some notes in shorthand. Those notes gave details of her funeral and other arrangements and contained many very personal reflections and messages. Without Tracey’s help I would never have been able to understand them. Thank you Tracey for your help and understanding at a difficult time”.


*** So a lovely lady contacted me recently.  She had read the Alan B Shepard transcription and had pointed out one change so I have added a revised version below.***

I only transcribe Pitmans Shorthand (all versions) but occasionally I get sent other stuff too.  Unfortunately, unless it is Pitmans, I have to decline which I hate to do.  This enquiry was absolutely fascinating but it was written in Gregg shorthand but I was able to pass it onto a friend of mine who did such a good job that customer, Bill, sent all the stuff back to me for interest and also to put on my site.  Thank you Bill.  I really wished I could have done this one, it is a love letter from the mid 1940’s that was written to America’s first man in space, Alan B Shepard. 

It was written by a young woman named Fran (aka Dashing Dizzy), who it turns out from subsequent letters was madly in love with Shepard.  This particular letter was penned in shorthand and intended to be deciphered as a playful challenge.

This is the letter and revised solution ...

A new reference ...

My name is in print!!

I have achieved fame at long last!  Here is the result of my work - am really chuffed about this!


 Grandpa's War Diaries











An Art Installation 

I have been working with a most delightful artists, David Brognon and Stéphanie Rollin.  David wanted me to write a phrase in shorthand, but it had to be in French!  The beauty of shorthand is that it is phonetic - you write what you hear.  He very kindly sent me a photograph - isn't it absolutely fantastic!

David Brognon & Stéphanie Rollin
Nous allons observer une minute de silence, 2016
Blue Neon
500 x 30 cm
Trad: Tracey Jennings
Unique Edition

It's hanging on "place d'armes" in Luxembourg-city centre.  I am credited on the exhibition for the traduction.  The neon may move to Lyon on France after the show.  I have done the same sentence in other languages and David and Stéphanie plan to produce them in a smaller size. One will be show in ArtBrussels in April, and the Arabic version in a French museum in September.

One of my lovely friends just sent me this link to an interesting article on the BBC about shorthand ...


Now the wedding is a past memory, we are looking forward to Christmas and so am as busy as ever.  But I was sent this postcard the other day and the transcription is below.  One or two gaps, but they are mainly names and pretty tricky to be 100% confident ...

It is fearfully cold here today and yesterday. I do not know that I remember it so cold. It may be that I feel much more as I am getting old. I expect you have had ways of …. It was trying to snow this morning but has not come to anything yet.

 Very many thanks for your lovely long letter. I will answer it more ….. in a few days and send you the …. and directions. I have just rung Stanley up on the telephone and find that Uncle is still away and has not been at office since a fortnight ago yesterday. Auntie has been in bed and Miss …. has had ulcerated throat and all the children have been bad, but Stanley says all are better now except baby and this delay expecting Uncle at the office. Suppose it is the way weather which keeps me at home now. Stanley says all the children have colds, but does not think they are so bad as they try to make out. Miss ….. is still there. I met Jenny at the ballet last night. She is pretty well and asked to be remembered to you. She is glad you have found something so quickly and hopes you will like it.

Can you read my shorthand? Because if you can't I won't write any more in shorthand.

Very best love. Mary ….. Hughes.



Been a bit busy recently and haven't been able to update my website for a couple of months.  Hen nights and getting married took up most of my spare time!  So now I pick up where I left off ..

I have been doing all sorts of different stuff recently, including boring meeting minutes - but you have to take the rough with the smooth.  Unfortunately a lot of my work is confidential to the families and I really don't like requesting permission to publish an extract.  On the other hand when I received this scan of shorthand written on the back of a photograph and realised what it was, I had no problem asking.

As soon as I transcribed a couple of lines, the whole thing popped into my head and I spent the rest of the day singing it.  As well as the scan I have typed the lyrics alongside so you can have a little sing-song too!!  Enjoy!!

Once I had a secret love,
That lived within the heart of me,
All too soon my secret love,
Became impatient to be free.

So I told a friendly star,
The way that dreamers often do,
Just how wonderful you are,

And why I'm so in love with you.
Now I shout it from the highest hills,
Even told the golden daffodils.
At last my heart's an open door,
And my secret love's no secret any more.




I have finished the Civil War stuff and am pretty pleased with the outcome.  I was working from a scan of the original diary which was dirty and tatty to say the least.  Still, even though there were a few gaps (understandable) I reckon I got 90% of it.

 I have been pretty busy recently and have been privileged to have worked on diary entries from 1876/1877 and WW1 (probably my favourite subject).  I have also been doing transcription work on some American Civil War pieces 1863/1864, and it is amazing that Pitmans crops up in unexpected places.  He travels well!!!  The American Civil War papers are  difficult because it predates most of the stuff I have been doing, but once you start to crack the code ... well, it is so satisfying!

In the middle of this I have been doing small bits and pieces but recently I was sent a puzzle of a horses head which had been written in Pitmans.  It was so diabolically clever but it caused me a few sleepless nights!  Then one of my contacts sent me this clipping ...

Richard's Horse

I have a passion for the really old stuff, especially WW1 diaries, and I bought this postcard the other day ...

Teddington postcard


My transcription of this postcard is

"Dear Lilian,
Sorry you had to wait at W..... (town?) interchange at Rugby, but glad to hear you got over it alright. I should not trouble about that house in Dalston Road, the carriage would be so much. I am managing very well and always get up in time to have my breakfast. I sent you withdrawal form yesterday, hope you received if alright.
Hope you are enjoying yourself and that Dennis is good. Are there any special instructions you wish me to carry out? If so kindly put them in writing.
With regards to everybody, yours with love, Bert"

You can see there is a lop-sided stamp in the corner which I believe means "I will await you" - see the Language of Stamps under Other Stuff for more information on this.  Also the address of the recipient is only about 5 miles from my house!

I was asked to produce my professional accreditations(!)  Unfortunately I don't have these, I don't believe you can get certificated for Pitmans New Era shorthand (I may be wrong!).  So I asked my lovely mum to dig out all my own stuff from school 'cos I knew she had kept it somewhere.  The report cards were incredibly funny and I must have caused a lot of heartache to my parents, but I did come across my own shorthand certificates.  I have posted them here and I know they are only for 50wpm but I had only just turned 16 and was still at school.


You may notice that I attended Matthew Arnold, this is the school made famous by Ali G (perhaps I shouldn't mention that!)

Tracey Jennings woz 'ere!  November 2013

Shorthand Graffiti

This is my rather pathetic attempt at urban art!  I graffitied my garage wall with a little piece of shorthand.  I don't think it will catch on!


LinkedIn Recommendation

I have received the following recommendation following a job I did for a lovely lady I met through LinkedIn ...

Dear Tracey,
I've written this recommendation of your work to share with other LinkedIn users.

Details of the Recommendation: "Tracey completed a difficult piece of work, translating and transcribing. She completed the work with great results and kept me informed at each step. Ever helpful and reliable. I would recommend Tracey without hesitation."
Service Category: translation
Year first hired: 2013
Top Qualities: Great Results, Expert, On Time

Gregg Shorthand (my latest venture!)

I received a fabulous enquiry yesterday to translate some 1948 documents from an FBI file.  Well, I was pretty excited until I saw it was Gregg shorthand and not Pitmans.  Sometimes you need a push and I have decided to have a crack at trying to learn Gregg.  I know Pitmans New Era is the original, best and quickest shorthand method, but Gregg seems to be the favoured American method and it really doesn't hurt to be able to do both.

That being said, I have the books and the enthusiasm but Pitmans is in my head and I think it may take some time to stop thinking about the system I know and love every time I write an outline.  It may be a frustrating journey.

Added 27 October - Frustrating isn't the word!!  I have taken to spending at least half an hour every day studying and at the moment it is very hard.  Because I am finding it quite tricky to separate Pitmans from Gregg (my brain sees Pitmans in Gregg outlines which is not what I want!!), I have been advised to use a technique developed to help dyslexics and that is to write in a different coloured pen.  So red ink it is!

I am also watching the YouTube videos but the lecturer still hasn't got off the subject of how great Gregg is and I have watched six videos so far!  (Over 40 minutes of my life which I won't get back!)  Hopefully we will start on lesson 1 soon.

More of my latest venture to follow - I hope!

My aim is to be able to offer a translation service covering the two main shorthand methods, Pitmans and Gregg.

Transcription or Translation?

It has always amazed me how the English language evolves.  One day a word can have one meaning, the next it can be used in a completely different way - we all know that teenagers all over the world develop their own language so we more mature people can't understand what the hell they are on about!

I am obviously trying to advertise my shorthand transcription services but in order to do so I have to pepper my website with the word "translation" which is what most people will search for.

Today there is no real difference between the two words, but my understanding is that "transcription" as a noun is, (1) a written or printed representation of something, (2) the action or process of transcribing something.

On the other hand "Translation" as a noun is, (1) the process of translating words or text from one language into another, (2) a written or spoken rendering of the meaning of a word, speech, book, or other text, in another language.

Being a bit pedantic I use the world "transcription" but who really cares?


Latest Commissions (14 September)

Two repeat clients this month!  To me that is so important because they wouldn't come back to me if they weren't happy!

I've also got an 1858 document on the go at the moment.  This piece is rather difficult to translate but I've got the gist of it and I'm sure I can make some sense out of it.  I did an 1863 document written during the American Civil War (see below) a few months ago but this one is the earliest piece I have ever worked on!  The language is completely different to how we speak now (I think it is amazing how the English language is evolving on a daily basis) but it doesn't make my job any easier.

WW1 Notebooks (updated)

My latest commission is the transcription of 11 notebooks covering the writer's journey down to Salonica (Greece).  It is interesting in that it is different from all the other war diaries I have done.  I have only completed the first two-thirds but there has been no fighting whatsoever.  In fact the writer is extremely verbose and describes all his day-to-day activities in such detail you can easily visualise what he sees and feels on his journeys.  They are also so beautifully written that it makes my job a little easier.  It proves my point that if you can read Pitman New Era, you can read all the other versions too!!  I am now looking forward to receiving the next batch so I can continue to follow his experiences - after all, it is a privilege to be the first to read these extremely interesting books which were written nearly a century ago.

As an aside, I think that translating these notebooks has actually improved my own shorthand (which if you read it you would think it was shocking!)  But because this writing is so technically adept, my job has been made easier and some of his talent has rubbed off on me.

Update 14 September - Nearly finished now!  Rather sorry actually because it was an extremely nice project.  The writer was a sort of Judith Chalmers (Wish you were here?) of WW1.


This really is amazing!  I was recently asked to translate a letter dated 1863 - 150 years old and written 50 years after Isaac Pitman was born!  The letter was written during the American Civil War, it was difficult to work on because it had been written with quill and ink so the outlines were slightly dodgy!  But isn't it incredible that shorthand travelled to America so quickly?  Anyway, I received this really lovely letter today


" I enjoy researching my ancestor’s involvement in the American Civil War. I recently contacted another descendant of this regiment, the 85th Pennsylvania Regiment Volunteers, who had placed a 150-year old  letter written in Pittman shorthand on the website

 I found Tracey’s website and sent her an email, asking her if she could help us. Tracey was a godsend. Within a week, she took on the task and was able to decipher most of the letter, which helped us to establish when and where the letter was written. We cannot thank her enough to taking the time to help us in our quest of discovering more about the history of family’s involvement in the Civil War.

 Mae West used to say, “I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.” Tracey was willing to help us even though we live a continent away. She has done a wonderful kindness us.

Dan Clendaniel

Teacher in Residence

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Triangle, Virginia, USA

(13 June 2013) "


It can be confusing but there is a difference between the two.  I have found that if you Google "transcription" I am on the first page, however if you Google "translation" I am back on page ten!  I have therefore purchased two new domain names - and  If you a look at you can see there is a difference, although these days it really doesn't matter which you use, I'm not that pedantic!

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shorthand transcription service hello and welcome to my website!I bet you wish you knew what this means?Have you come across a document which looks like a page of doodles, lots of lines and circles which make no sense whatsoever and do you wonder what it means? It may be that you have come into possession of an old diary which includes squiggles which you cannot understand. A diary is after all a place where one can write one's secret thoughts and, to ensure that if found it could not be read, the writer may have recorded their feelings in shorthand.  If you want to know what these scribbles mean, I can help.


Shorthand transcription (or translation if you prefer) is my speciality and I have been using shorthand daily for over 35 years now.  I was extremely lucky to learn Pitman's New Era Shorthand in the mid 1970's - it wasn't even being taught at my school at that time; it had been replaced by Pitman's 2000 which you could only learn at college, and I remember the book I used had a picture on the front cover of a sexy secretary taking dictation from a handsome man – it was very 1950's! I have now come to realise that there are so few people in the UK who can read shorthand and I believe it is slowly dying out and will become extinct – which is a shame because it is a beautiful form of writing in its own right.

If you can read this message you probably don't need my help!

Pitman's Shorthand is a phonetics-based system developed by the Englishman, Sir Isaac Pitman (1837-1897). Sounds are written as outlines made up of light and dark strokes, curves, circles, loops, hooks, ticks, dots, dashes and diphthongs. Other techniques, such as short forms, intersections, doubling and halving, help the writer to take down sounds at an even faster rate. Pitman's Shorthand is an extremely clever and enduring system but unfortunately technology has replaced this amazing form of speedwriting and it is in danger of becoming extinct. Why not have a look at Wikipedia or some of the shorthand videos on YouTube? 

One major advantage of Pitman's New Era shorthand is that it can be read by everyone who studied the subject.  That is why I can read my mum's shorthand and vice-versa.  It is also why I can transcribe (or translate, it is another language in any case) any document written in New Era or 2000, although it doesn't work the other way round!

So, if you would like to know what your grandparent's journals say, email me.  It may just be a shopping list, but who knows, it could be something really interesting.  What looks like a load of old scribbling on files and documents (and I'm guilty of making notes like that rather than writing things out properly) can be very important.  Find out the meaning of these scribbles.

And it isn't restricted to your granny's diary, shorthand is still used by legal secretaries and journalists, but can today's writers read yesterday's writings?  I can!

If you would like to know more, please contact me: