Progress update, 12 to 25 April 2014: over 8,000 transcripts worked on!

By Tim Causer, on 25 April 2014

Welcome along to the progress update for the period 12 to 25 April 2014, during which time quite astonishing progress has been made by TB volunteers, who have broken all sorts of records. Though UCL was closed from 16 to 22 April, that didn’t stop transcribers working away at a rate of knots: during this two week period, 357 transcripts were worked on! This breaks down into 212 transcripts from 12 to 18 April—a new record—and a further 145 from 19 to 25 April.

This means that 8,002 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed. Since Transcribe Bentham launched in 2010, it has taken an average of four to five months for a thousand transcripts to be worked on; however, volunteers have gone from 7,000 to 8,000 transcripts in little over eight weeks (and we’ll write more about this soon). This is an amazing effort of the part of transcribers, and we are thrilled with this progress – it will make a real difference to our work and in providing access to Bentham’s manuscripts.

We are very grateful to volunteers for their patience as we work through checking their transcripts, and we hope to be back on an even keel early next week and will be able to report more fully on the number of words transcribed, and the number of transcripts which have been locked. Our apologies for any inconvenience caused, but we’re almost there!

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

Box No. of manuscripts worked on No. of manuscripts in box Completion
Box 1 95 794 11%
Box 2 465 753 61%
Box 5 152 290 52%
Box 15 18 914 2%
Box 27 350 350 100%
Box 29 1 122 1%
Box 31 0 302 1%
Box 34 6 398 1%
Box 35 286 439 65%
Box 36 4 418 1%
Box 37 0 487 1%
Box 38 0 424 1%
Box 39 0 282 1%
Box 41 70 528 12%
Box 42 57 910 6%
Box 44 0 201 1%
Box 50 159 198 76%
Box 51 372 940 39%
Box 57 1 420 1%
Box 62 55 565 10%
Box 70 295 350 84%
Box 71 663 663 100%
Box 72 612 664 92%
Box 73 151 151 100%
Box 79 199 199 100%
Box 95 123 147 83%
Box 96 531 539 98%
Box 97 79 296 26%
Box 98 216 499 43%
Box 100 182 422 41%
Box 107 466 538 86%
Box 115 276 307 89%
Box 116 497 864 57%
Box 117 231 853 27%
Box 118 62 880 7%
Box 119 111 990 11%
Box 121 120 526 21%
Box 122 280 717 38%
Box 139 40 40 100%
Box 150 97 972 9%
Box 169 144 728 19%
Add MSS 537 308 744 41%
Add MSS 538 137 858 15%
Add MSS 539 91 948 9%
Overall 8,002 21,451 32%

Some great material has been transcribed during the last two weeks. We find that Jeremy’s personal life continued to have its problems, as he expressed his frustrations at not having a reply to his letters from Sarah Stretton. Writing in 1776 to his brother Samuel, Jeremy bemoaned that despite having written her ‘an enormous long one [letter]‘, it was ‘now Wednesday and in all this time not a syllable have I heard from the little vixen’. (Thanks to Simon Croft for transcribing that one). A thirteen-year old Jeremy was forced to explain, in 1761, to his annoyed father why he had failed to write to him recently:

Sir I would have wrote to you as I promised if it had not been for a deep cut in my finger which I gave myself while I was mending a pen to write you with, just where I hold my pen; so that I could not hold it well enough to write intelligibly.

Surely that’s the eighteenth century version of ‘the dog ate it’ or ‘I didn’t get your text message’. Must try harder, JB (thanks to Iris van der Zwaag for submitting this transcript).

There is also a hint of Bentham’s unhappiness at Oxford in another letter of 1761 to his father:

I wrote a Letter or at least part of one
last Night, but being fatigued and not finding any of my
Acquaintance I sat down to it so melancholy, & made it
such a Melancholy Letter I was resolved to day I would
not send it: I do not know when I wished for your Company
so much as then; or when I have been so low-spirited : but
a good Night’s rest brought me to rights again.

(Thanks again to Iris for transcribing that one).

Finally, another cause of annoyance to Bentham at Oxford were his damp, dark rooms, where the furniture was ‘allways covered with dust’. Student digs: some things never change. (Thank you to Diane Jonker for transcribing this one).

As always, thanks so much to everyone who contributed to Transcribe Bentham over the past two weeks. The generosity of volunteers in taking part never ceases to amaze us.