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Archival Transcription Projects: Home

Event info

Archival Collections Transcribe-a-thon


Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 4-7 pm. 

Drop in any time, and stay for as long as you'd like.


DSC Media Lounge - 211 Snell Library


Digitized collections of manuscripts and ephemera need help from human eyes to be more useful to readers and researchers. We’ll highlight several major archives where anyone can participate in transcribing digitized materials online and get you started on some of these fascinating projects, which range from historical restaurant menus to explorers’ logbooks to anthropologists’ field notes. Drop in at any point during the session and bring a laptop or tablet to participate...we’ll provide the pizza. 

Questions? Ask your hosts!

What Is Archival Transcription?

Many archives are digitizing their collections to make them available to researchers who aren't able to come to see them in person. And digitizing these collections can also permit usages that were not possible with the physical artifacts, such as analyzing word use and frequency in a large collection of printed materials, more rapid analysis of field data, or gathering new insights about daily life in a particular time period. Digitization can also improve accessibility of archival materials for users with vision impairment or other disabilities. But older materials, and materials that have been digitally scanned, are often not able to be accurately "read" by a computer program. Human eyes do a much better job of reading handwriting, determining if a mark on a page is intentional or not, and distinguishing faded or smudged text. That's where citizen transcriptionists come in!

Usually, no specialized knowledge of the material's subject matter or special skills are needed. If you can read, you can transcribe! And transcription is a great opportunity to learn a little about a topic you never thought you'd be interested in.

Project links

For our event on Oct. 26, we're planning to focus on several archival transcription sites:

Each of these sites contains multiple projects; we'll highlight a few but feel free to work on anything that appeals to you!

Your efforts could make a difference

Many of these projects rely on the contributions of volunteers to make new research and even scientific discoveries possible. In the related field of citizen science, Hanny van Arkel, a schoolteacher in the Netherlands, participated in a project where volunteers scrutinized photos of the cosmos. She discovered an object not previously noted by astronomers. That object turned out to be as large as our Milky Way, and is now known as Hanny's Voorwerp.  (Voorwerp is Dutch for 'object'.)