Bentham Project receives grant from the Mellon Foundation

By Tim Causer, on 2 July 2012

We are delighted to announce that the Bentham Project and Transcribe Bentham have been awarded a grant of $538,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, under their Scholarly Communications programme, for a period of two years from 1 October 2012. We will build upon the on-going successes of Transcribe Bentham, and continue the collaboration between the Bentham Project, UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities, UCL Library Services, UCL Creative Media Services, and the University of London Computer Centre. We are now also pleased to welcome a new partner to the project: the British Library.

The British Library’s involvement is hugely important. Transcribe Bentham was initially established under an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant. This would fund the digitisation of around 30% of UCL’s vast Bentham Papers collection, which runs to c. 60,000 manuscript folios, or an estimated 30 million words. The Mellon funding will now allow us to digitise much of the remainder of the UCL collection and—fulfilling a long-held ambition—all of the British Library’s 12,500 folios (c. 6 million words) of Bentham material. Hence the new programme’s official name: the Consolidated Bentham Papers Repository (CBPR) which will reunite this priceless collection—digitally—for the first time since Bentham’s death, and create a free-to-access historical and philosophical resource of great significance.

Alongside this mass digitisation programme, the important process of crowdsourced transcription will continue. We will be able to implement significant improvements to the transcription interface, many of which have been suggested to us by volunteers, which will make the process of transcription and using the site more straightforward. As a result, we hope that even more volunteers will join those already participating, who are at present transcribing at a terrific rate.

We are extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation trustees for this support, and especially the Scholarly Communications programme officers for seeing us through the application process so smoothly. We look forward to working with the Foundation, our partners and the project’s volunteer transcribers, and talking about the work in the weeks and months to come!