Crowdsourced Transcription

Blog Post #3

Transcribing sources digitally is beneficial for all, especially when the public is involved! I was able to transcribe a letter from Mary Ann Shad Carry [see image below]. The idea of reading words on paper and typing them up digitally sounds fairly easy. However, one has to remember that when dealing with hand-written letters, especially from years ago, it can be difficult to accurately use the right words. Everyone’s handwriting is different. While I found that 90% of the time I was able to understand the work, 10% of the time I had to make my best guess, bracketing words that I were unsure of.

Participating in this made me reflect on transcribing and how important it is. Digital texts allows for documents to be picked up by certain screen readers, making them accessible. It also allows the public to access documents that they would otherwise not have access to, due to travel restrictions in the case of a physical archive.

Throughout my undergraduate journey, I’ve encountered many instances of primary sources being behind a paywall. This make it impossible for someone to access and use for their research if they do not want to pay for it. By transcribing these letters, we are adding to a collection that will further assist in the understanding of Mary Ann Shad Carry.

In an article by Andrew Hurley about public history and the digital world merging, he states:

“As a result, the enterprise of public history increasingly plays out in the virtual universe of interactive 3D environments, Internet blogs, social media mashups, and mobile apps”

Hurley, Andrew. “Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide.” The Public Historian 38, no. 1 (2016): 69–88.

Essentially, digital technology is constantly evolving, and with that, the world of public history must exist on these platforms as well. It is important for those in the public history sector to be up to date with software that they can utilize to showcase findings, exhibits, etc. But, digital literacy can only go so far as marketing plays a big role in public outreach.

With that, I found the process of transcribing engaging and hope to see more public transcribing events pop up in the future.

On the left, is the document that I was transcribing. You can see the handwriting and how some words were unclear. On the right, the program gives you easy instructions, and a textbook to type words.






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