Welcome to Transcribe Bentham

By Tim Causer, on 27 March 2013

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham

‘Many hands make light work. Many hands together make merry work‘, wrote the philosopher and reformer, Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) in 1793. In this spirit, we cordially welcome you to Transcribe Bentham, a double award-winning collaborative transcription initiative, which is digitising and making available digital images of Bentham’s unpublished manuscripts through a platform known as the ‘Transcription Desk‘. There, you can access the material and—just as importantly—transcribe the material, to help the work of UCL’s Bentham Project, and further improve access to, and searchability of, this enormously important collection of historical and philosophical material.

This is an exciting opportunity to make a genuine difference to research and scholarship by contributing to the production of the new edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, and to help create for posterity a vast digital repository of Bentham’s writings. We warmly invite you to take part in this endeavour: no special skills are required, you do not require approval to participate, and every contribution—no matter how small—is of great value to Transcribe Bentham.

Please consult the Transcribe Bentham FAQ for more details on taking part.

You can also read more about Jeremy Bentham, his thought and his importance, and consult resources on deciphering historical handwriting.

Find out more about the consortium behind Transcribe Bentham, and talks and publications by the project team.

Progress Update – 16 to 22 July 2016

By Louise Seaward, on 25 July 2016

Hi again.  We’re back on the blog with just what you’ve been waiting for – the Transcribe Bentham stats from the past week!  As ever, we are very grateful to all of our wonderful transcribers for their hard work.

While we’re here, we need to remind you of some big news from the Bentham Project. The Panopticon Pandemonium game has now been launched!  Download the game for free and see how you fare running a digital recreation of Bentham’s notorious prison design.

Back to the stats.  16,338 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 43 on last week’s total.  Of these transcripts, 15,435 (94%) have been checked and approved by TB staff.

The more detailed progress chart is as follows:

Box No. of manuscripts worked on No. of manuscripts in box Completion
Box 1 432 795 54%
Box 2 652 753 86%
Box 4 10 694 1%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 4 169 2%
Box 8 20 284 7%
Box 9 47 266 17%
Box 10 23 459 5%
Box 11 9 480 1%
Box 15 86 814 10%
Box 18 4 193 2%
Box 27 350 350 COMPLETE
Box 29 22 122 18%
Box 30 4 193 2%
Box 31 19 302 6%
Box 34 40 399 10%
Box 35 287 439 65%
Box 36 37 419 8%
Box 37 36 487 7%
Box 38 172 427 40%
Box 39 12 284 4%
Box 41 87 572 15%
Box 42 92 910 10%
Box 44 53 202 26%
Box 50 176 198 88%
Box 51 386 940 41%
Box 57 19 420 4%
Box 62 78 565 13%
Box 63 155 345 44%
Box 70 306 350 87%
Box 71 663 663 COMPLETE
Box 72 614 664 92%
Box 73 151 151 COMPLETE
Box 79 199 199 COMPLETE
Box 87 2 604 1%
Box 95 126 147 85%
Box 96 534 539 99%
Box 97 147 296 49%
Box 98 224 499 44%
Box 100 212 442 47%
Box 106 235 581 40%
Box 107 503 538 93%
Box 110 15 671 2%
Box 115 277 307 90%
Box 116 788 865 91%
Box 117 469 853 54%
Box 118 258 880 29%
Box 119 538 990 54%
Box 120 214 686 31%
Box 121 149 526 28%
Box 122 306 728 42%
Box 123 45 443 10%
Box 124 16 383 4%
Box 139 40 40 COMPLETE
Box 141 88 381 23%
Box 149 86 581 14%
Box 150 972 972 COMPLETE
Box 169 195 728 26%
Add MS 35537 730 744 98%
Add MS 35538 824 858 96%
Add MS 35539 882 948 93%
Add MS 35540 947 1012 93%
Add MS 35541 986 1258 78%
Add MS 35547 32 701 4%
Add MS 35549 11 366 3%
Add MS 35550 42 637 6%
Overall 16,338 35,002 46%

Panopticon Pandemonium: your chance to run Bentham’s prison!

By Tim Causer, on 18 July 2016

We are delighted to announce that Panopticon Pandemonium—a chance to run Bentham’s never-realised prison—is now available to download for free!

For around a decade of his life until 1803, Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) lobbied the British government to build a ‘panopticon’ prison of his design. Bentham had envisaged an ‘Inspection House’—a circular building with the prisoners’ cells arranged around the outer wall and an inspection tower at the centre, from which the prison inspector could look into the cells at any time, though the inmates would be unable to see the inspector. The prisoners would have to assume that they were being watched, and Bentham expected that they would thus modify their behaviour in a positive manner in order to avoid the additional punishment which would inevitably follow for breaching the prison’s discipline.

ScreenShot29  ScreenShot31

The failure of the panopticon scheme was a crushing blow and the greatest disappointment of Bentham’s life. No prison which adhered to Bentham’s design has ever been built, and Panopticon Pandemonium sees the construction—virtually—of a working panopticon for the first time. The player, assisted by Bentham himself, acts as governor of the prison and has to balance economies of the social benefits of Bentham’s vision—happiness, rehabilitation, work—against the functions of discipline, punishment, and surveillance, while also ensuring that their panopticon is orderly and profitable. These conflicting functions, rooted in Bentham’s writings, are realised as game mechanics with the player managing economies of work and nutrition, the recruitment and deployment of staff, coping with riotous prisoners, and ensuring that visiting dignitaries come away from the Panopticon with a favourable impression. Fail in the task and prisoners will instead be transported to New South Wales!

ScreenShot37 ScreenShot21

Download the game now for PC! (a Mac version will follow soon)

Panopticon Pandemonium was funded by the UCL Grand Challenges Small Grant Activities scheme. It was developed by Duck Duck Zeus, in association with the UCL Bentham Project, DARE Collaborative, the UCL Knowledge Lab, and the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. A press pack is also available .

Progress Update – 9 to 15 July 2016

By Louise Seaward, on 15 July 2016

Hello there.  We’re here again with the latest round-up the pages which have been transcribed over the past week.  A big thanks goes out to everyone who has transcribed this week!

For those who might have missed it, Dr Tim Causer has blogged this week about how he has been using volunteer transcripts in his work on Bentham’s writings on Australia.  Why did Bentham rely upon a letter from an unnamed woman in his argument against convict transportation?

Back to the stats.  16,295 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 33 on last week’s total.  Of these transcripts, 15,385 (94%) have been checked and approved by TB staff.

The more detailed progress chart is as follows:

Box No. of manuscripts worked on No. of manuscripts in box Completion
Box 1 426 795 53%
Box 2 635 753 84%
Box 4 10 694 1%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 4 169 2%
Box 8 20 284 7%
Box 9 47 266 17%
Box 10 23 459 5%
Box 11 9 480 1%
Box 15 86 814 10%
Box 18 4 193 2%
Box 27 350 350 COMPLETE
Box 29 22 122 18%
Box 30 4 193 2%
Box 31 19 302 6%
Box 34 40 399 10%
Box 35 287 439 65%
Box 36 37 419 8%
Box 37 36 487 7%
Box 38 172 427 40%
Box 39 12 284 4%
Box 41 87 572 15%
Box 42 92 910 10%
Box 44 53 202 26%
Box 50 176 198 88%
Box 51 386 940 41%
Box 57 19 420 4%
Box 62 78 565 13%
Box 63 155 345 44%
Box 70 306 350 87%
Box 71 663 663 COMPLETE
Box 72 614 664 92%
Box 73 151 151 COMPLETE
Box 79 199 199 COMPLETE
Box 87 2 604 1%
Box 95 126 147 85%
Box 96 534 539 99%
Box 97 145 296 48%
Box 98 224 499 44%
Box 100 212 442 47%
Box 106 235 581 40%
Box 107 503 538 93%
Box 110 15 671 2%
Box 115 277 307 90%
Box 116 788 865 91%
Box 117 465 853 54%
Box 118 258 880 29%
Box 119 538 990 54%
Box 120 207 686 30%
Box 121 149 526 28%
Box 122 306 728 42%
Box 123 45 443 10%
Box 124 16 383 4%
Box 139 40 40 COMPLETE
Box 141 88 381 23%
Box 149 85 581 14%
Box 150 972 972 COMPLETE
Box 169 195 728 26%
Add MS 35537 730 744 98%
Add MS 35538 824 858 96%
Add MS 35539 882 948 93%
Add MS 35540 947 1012 93%
Add MS 35541 984 1258 78%
Add MS 35547 32 701 4%
Add MS 35549 11 366 3%
Add MS 35550 38 637 5%
Overall 16,295 35,002 46%

‘from a female pen, as well as to a female eye’: annotating Bentham’s ‘Writings on Australia’

By Tim Causer, on 12 July 2016

It’s been a few months since the last update about the ongoing editing of Bentham’s writings on Australia. In the intervening period I’ve mostly been researching and writing editorial notes for Panopticon versus New Wales and A Plea for the Constitution to illuminate Bentham’s various allusions throughout the texts.

In writing and researching the First Letter to Lord Pelham (one half of Panopticon versus New South Wales) in 1802, Bentham sought out as much information as possible about the convict colony of New South Wales. Though he relied in the main upon historical accounts and official correspondence among Bentham’s other acquisitions was a short letter dated 7 October 1800, ‘from a female pen, as well as to a female eye’, which he cited as evidence of the immorality supposedly prevalent in New South Wales (p. 19). He quoted a portion of the letter which described how the new Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gidley King, would have to ‘pay some attention to the morals and instruction of the rising generation, to which none has hitherto been given; for certainly, if we ever hope to see worth or honesty in this settlement, we must look to them for it, and not the present degenerate race.

Bentham was oddly coy about the letter’s providence, noting that for ‘authentication sake, designation will (I suppose) be regarded as indispensable; but where that sex is concerned, the most reserved mode that can be thought of, is the most respectful and the best.’ There the authorship of the letter might have remained a mystery but, as ever when it comes to Bentham, his manuscripts are fortunately more revealing. In an unpublished draft of the First Letter to Lord Pelham, Bentham wrote that ‘the Lady’s Husband—a Soldier—[was] the first man in rank under the Governor’ (UCL Bentham Papers, Box xciv, f. 335v). The Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales in October 1800 was Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson (1755–1810), making the author of the letter his wife, Elizabeth (née Driver), one of the founders of the Sydney Orphans’ School and committee member of the Female Orphans’ Institution.

Elizabeth Paterson’s letter—or perhaps an extract from it— is held among the British Library’s Bentham Papers (Additional Manuscripts 33,453, folios 423–24) and a similar note to the quotation above about its authorship, in pencil and in Bentham’s hand, is written at the end of the letter. Furthermore, on the reverse of the letter it is stated that it was from ‘Mrs Patterson [sic] Port Jackson to Mrs B. Q.S.P.’—‘Mrs B’ being Maria Sophia Bentham (1765–1858), the wife of Jeremy’s younger brother, Samuel (1757–1831). This was not the only occasion that Jeremy tapped into Samuel and Maria Sophia’s network when writing Panopticon versus New South Wales: he also drew upon a letter dated 20 May 1799 from Samuel’s friend, John Hunter (1737–1821), Governor of New South Wales from 1795 to 1800.

As well as her remarks upon colonial morality (very much written from the point of view of the official class), Elizabeth Paterson’s letter also reveals anxiety about the security of the colony in the wake of several hundred convicts having arrived from Ireland, many of whom were apparently involved in the 1798 United Irishmen rising. In September 1800, a month before Paterson put pen to paper, a nebulous ‘plot’ had been uncovered in which some Irish convicts were supposed to have been ready to resort to armed revolt. Paterson wrote of how ‘for these last six months we have been under apprehensions’ of a rising, but as the rumours were unconfirmed ‘no steps [were taken] to prevent their designs’ until 28 September. This was the day apparently ‘fixed for the destruction of the Military and principal families at Parramatta, a considerable Settlement 15 Miles from [Sydney]’. Thirty ‘Ringleaders’ were arrested and questioned and ‘the greatest part confessed the horrid plot’ and, as a result, a number of men were ordered to be flogged and/or exiled to Norfolk Island. Even though the ‘plot’ had been prevented, Paterson remained concerned that the military force in the colony was insufficient and that even after ‘our critical situation’ became known back in London, there was still the prospect of more Irish prisoners being transported to New South Wales.

You can see the letter, and the page of the draft of Panopticon versus New South Wales below. In the meantime, the editorial work continues apace. The annotation of the printed versions of Panopticon versus New South Wales and A Plea for the Constitution is at quite an advanced stage, and transcripts of manuscripts from Box 116 , produced in the main by TB volunteers, are also being checked, and the quality is extraordinarily high. Once this checking is complete, we will begin to compare the draft versions of these two texts with the printed versions, and see just what Bentham decided to leave out from the final versions. But that is something for a future update…

 

Elizabeth Paterson to Maria Sophia Bentham, 7 Oct 1800 (p.1) British Library Add. MS  33,453, fo. 423r

Elizabeth Paterson to Maria Sophia Bentham, 7 Oct 1800 (p.1)
British Library Add. MS 33,453, fo. 423r

Elizabeth Paterson to Maria Sophia Bentham, 7 Oct 1800 (p.1) British Library Add. MS  33,453, fo. 423v

Elizabeth Paterson to Maria Sophia Bentham, 7 Oct 1800 (p.1)
British Library Add. MS 33,453, fo. 423v

Elizabeth Paterson to Maria Sophia Bentham, 7 Oct 1800 (p.1) British Library Add. MS  33,453, fo. 424r

Elizabeth Paterson to Maria Sophia Bentham, 7 Oct 1800 (p.1)
British Library Add. MS 33,453, fo. 424r

 

UCL Bentham Papers, Box xciv, fo. 335v

UCL Bentham Papers, Box xciv, fo. 335v

 

 

 

Progress Update, 2 to 8 July 2016

By Louise Seaward, on 8 July 2016

Hello!  The Bentham Project have been in Lille this week attending the 2016 conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS).  Members of the Project have been both presenting and listening to the latest research on Bentham including his writings on political fallacies, information control and penal reform.  Check out our twitter feed for more info.

Here is our round-up of the latest statistics.  Transcription is continuing at a great pace and our volunteers deserve much thanks, as always.

16,262 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 57 on last week’s total.  Of these transcripts, 15,354 (94%) have been checked and approved by TB staff.

The more detailed progress chart is as follows:

Box No. of manuscripts worked on No. of manuscripts in box Completion
Box 1 419 795 52%
Box 2 616 753 81%
Box 4 10 694 1%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 4 169 2%
Box 8 20 284 7%
Box 9 47 266 17%
Box 10 22 459 4%
Box 11 9 480 1%
Box 15 86 814 10%
Box 18 4 193 2%
Box 27 350 350 COMPLETE
Box 29 22 122 18%
Box 30 4 193 2%
Box 31 19 302 6%
Box 34 40 399 10%
Box 35 287 439 65%
Box 36 37 419 8%
Box 37 36 487 7%
Box 38 172 427 40%
Box 39 12 284 4%
Box 41 87 572 15%
Box 42 92 910 10%
Box 44 53 202 26%
Box 50 176 198 88%
Box 51 386 940 41%
Box 57 19 420 4%
Box 62 78 565 13%
Box 63 155 345 44%
Box 70 306 350 87%
Box 71 663 663 COMPLETE
Box 72 614 664 92%
Box 73 151 151 COMPLETE
Box 79 199 199 COMPLETE
Box 87 2 604 1%
Box 95 126 147 85%
Box 96 534 539 99%
Box 97 145 296 48%
Box 98 224 499 44%
Box 100 212 442 47%
Box 106 235 581 40%
Box 107 503 538 93%
Box 110 15 671 2%
Box 115 277 307 90%
Box 116 788 865 91%
Box 117 465 853 54%
Box 118 258 880 29%
Box 119 538 990 54%
Box 120 205 686 29%
Box 121 149 526 28%
Box 122 306 728 42%
Box 123 45 443 10%
Box 124 16 383 4%
Box 139 40 40 COMPLETE
Box 141 88 381 23%
Box 149 85 581 14%
Box 150 972 972 COMPLETE
Box 169 195 728 26%
Add MS 35537 730 744 98%
Add MS 35538 824 858 96%
Add MS 35539 882 948 93%
Add MS 35540 947 1012 93%
Add MS 35541 984 1258 78%
Add MS 35547 32 701 4%
Add MS 35549 8 366 2%
Add MS 35550 37 637 5%
Overall 16,262 35,002 46%