Archive for the 'News' Category

Progress Update – 17 to 23 September 2016

By Louise Seaward, on 26 September 2016

Hello one and all.  It’s time to count up the latest statistics on Transcribe Bentham.  Our volunteers are working at a great pace at the moment and we would like to take this opprtunity to say thanks to everyone who has been transcribing recently.

16,739 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 70 on last week’s total.  Of these transcripts, 15,801 (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 1 514 795 64%
Box 2 688 753 91%
Box 4 17 694 2%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 5 169 2%
Box 8 20 284 7%
Box 9 47 266 17%
Box 10 95 459 20%
Box 11 12 480 2%
Box 15 86 814 10%
Box 18 26 193 13%
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 38 176 427 41%
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 97 148 296 50%
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 116 791 865 91%
Box 117 486 853 56%
Box 118 258 880 29%
Box 119 538 990 54%
Box 120 326 686 47%
Box 121 149 526 28%
Box 122 308 728 42%
Box 123 45 443 10%
Box 124 16 383 4%
Box 139 40 40 COMPLETE
Box 141 94 381 24%
Box 149 87 581 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 74 637 11%
Overall 16,739 35,002 47%

Progress Update – 10 to 16 September 2016

By Louise Seaward, on 16 September 2016

Hi everyone.  It’s been a busy week at the Bentham Project.  At the beginning of the week we met with scholars from the Centre Bentham to discuss how we might edit an edition of Bentham’s French legal writings – check out our blog post to find out more.

Our volunteers have been powering through an impressive number of transcripts this week.  As always, we owe them much thanks!

16,669 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 68 on last week’s total.  Of these transcripts, 15,755 (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 1 501 795 63%
Box 2 684 753 90%
Box 4 16 694 2%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 5 169 2%
Box 8 20 284 7%
Box 9 47 266 17%
Box 10 69 459 15%
Box 11 12 480 2%
Box 15 86 814 10%
Box 18 24 193 12%
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 38 176 427 41%
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 116 791 865 91%
Box 117 486 853 56%
Box 118 258 880 29%
Box 119 538 990 54%
Box 120 309 686 44%
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 94 381 24%
Box 149 87 581 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 70 637 10%
Overall 16,669 35,002 47%

‘A body of laws is like a vast forest’ – editing Bentham’s French legal writings

By Louise Seaward, on 16 September 2016

On 12 and 13 September 2016, the Bentham Project welcomed five scholars from the Centre Bentham.  The purpose of this Anglo-French meeting was to discuss plans to produce an edition of Bentham’s French legal writings as part of the Collected Works.  We are grateful to UCL’s Global Engagement Fund for covering the costs of this meeting.

Bentham’s Projet d’un corps de loix complet was his plan for a complete code of laws. Bentham wrote over 500 folios on this subject, in French, across the mid-to-late 1780s.  French was the lingua franca of the eighteenth century and by writing in this language, Bentham could reach a wider audience.  Bentham was both contributing to and building upon the case for legal codification which had recently been made by noted philosophers like Voltaire, Montesquieu and Beccaria, as well as by the Russian empress Catherine the Great.

Bentham divided his endeavour into two parts – Projet forme and Projet matière.  In terms of the surviving manuscripts, Projet forme is the more coherent of the two and includes concrete ideas for a legal code.  Projet matière is more abstract and is focused on explaining the underlying principles of Bentham’s proposed code.  One of Bentham’s major points was that in order to be understood, laws needed to be expressed as clearly and precisely as possible.

The Projet manuscripts were never published as a discrete text but some of them were later included in Bentham’s Traités de législation civile et pénale.  Edited by Bentham’s friend Étienne Dumont and published in 1802, this work helped to make Bentham’s name in Europe.  Dumont presented a selective and heavily edited version of the Projet manuscripts and so a definitive edition of these papers still needs to be produced.  They represent a crucial moment in Bentham’s thinking about jurisprudence and demonstrate ideas which continued to inform his thinking across the rest of his life.

The meeting gave us a chance to review what we already know about Projet forme and Projet matière.  Professor Emmanuelle De Champs and Dr Malik Bozzo-Rey from the Centre Bentham have both worked extensively on this material and they were able to shed light on the structure and content of the manuscript pages.

We spent some time working together to transcribe and translate some of the Projet manuscripts using digital images produced as part of the Transcribe Bentham initiative.  We started off with Box xxxiii, fo. 109 where Bentham declared that ‘Un corps de loix c’est {comme} une vaste forêt: mieux il est percé, plus il est connu’ or ‘A body of laws is {like} a vast forest: the better it is explored, the better it is known’.  The same might be said of the Projet manuscripts!

UCL Bentham Papers, Box xxxiii, fo. 109 (Image courtesy of UCL Special Collections).

UCL Bentham Papers, Box xxxiii, fo. 109 (Image courtesy of UCL Special Collections)

If we want to produce a scholarly edition, we must follow a consistent set of conventions as we transcribe and edit Bentham’s text. Bentham’s use of French was not perfect and he sometimes used unusual words and phrases – probably because he was formulating his ideas in English and then translating them literally into French.   So we need to make Bentham’s French readable, without distorting its original meaning.  This can be done by making small editorial changes such as correcting grammatical errors and adding extra punctuation.

It was agreed that the Projet manuscripts would ideally be presented as a parallel edition, in the original French and in English translation.  This would make these manuscripts accessible to English-speaking scholars for the first time.  We also considered other ways we could increase wider awareness of Bentham’s plans for codification and got some interesting responses from our Twitter followers – including podcasts, videos and even a comic!

Thanks to our Anglo-French meeting, we have a better understanding of the Projet papers.  We can now begin to work on funding applications that could help us to develop these manuscripts into a scholarly edition.  Our collaboration with our French colleagues on the editing of the Projet manuscripts looks set to continue!

Progress update – 3 to 9 September 2016

By Louise Seaward, on 9 September 2016

Happy Friday one and all! We’ve got reason to celebrate this week as Transcribe Bentham marked its sixth anniversary –did you catch up on our blog post?

The transcripts have been flowing in over the past 7 days and we owe thanks to all the volunteers who have logged on and transcribed recently.

16,601 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 46 on last week’s total.  Of these transcripts, 15,714 (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 1 492 795 61%
Box 2 682 753 90%
Box 4 14 694 2%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 5 169 2%
Box 8 20 284 7%
Box 9 47 266 17%
Box 10 41 459 8%
Box 11 12 480 2%
Box 15 86 814 10%
Box 18 20 193 10%
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 38 176 427 41%
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 116 791 865 91%
Box 117 486 853 56%
Box 118 258 880 29%
Box 119 538 990 54%
Box 120 288 686 41%
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 94 381 24%
Box 149 87 581 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 68 637 10%
Overall 16,601 35,002 47%

Happy 6th Birthday to Transcribe Bentham!

By Louise Seaward, on 8 September 2016

According to WebMD, by the age of six children should be able to read and copy at least 10 easy words like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’.  I am happy to say that Transcribe Bentham passed this milestone long ago!

It was six years ago that Jeremy Bentham’s manuscripts were opened up to volunteers for the first time.  Although we were once unsure if the task of transcribing Bentham would appeal, we have been lucky enough to welcome a conscientious and hard-working group of volunteer transcribers.  These volunteers have transcribed Bentham’s thoughts on a variety of subjects including legal reform, crime and punishment, economics, politics, education and much more.  Our volunteers have also coped exceptionally well with Bentham’s handwriting, which can often be rather difficult to decipher.  The amount of work undertaken by the volunteers has been phenomenal.  At the last count, over 16,500 pages of Bentham have been transcribed or partially transcribed.  Over the past year, the transcribers have worked on an impressive average of 55 pages per week.  It must be underlined here how grateful we are to our volunteers for their enthusiasm and dedication.

Transcribe Bentham plays an important role in opening up Bentham’s papers to a wider audience.  The digitisation of Bentham’s manuscripts is ongoing and transcribers will soon have access to the full collection of Bentham’s writings as held in UCL Special Collections and The British Library.  Transcripts submitted by volunteers appear alongside images of the original manuscripts in our open access digital repository.  Volunteer transcripts are also making a significant contribution to the Bentham Project’s work on the scholarly edition of Bentham’s Collected WorksAs my colleagues Dr Michael Quinn and Dr Tim Causer have explained recently, these transcripts are used a starting point for further editorial work and the annotation of Bentham’s various references and allusions.

Speaking of Dr Tim Causer, he moved on to pastures new in January 2016 after more than five years at the helm of Transcribe Bentham.  He has not gone far however and is now working on his own edition of Bentham’s writings on convict transportation.  Dr Causer’s willingness to share his experiences and offer advice has been invaluable in helping me settle into my new role as the coordinator of Transcribe Bentham – thanks Tim!

Looking to the future, Transcribe Bentham is now working on an exciting new project with a group of universities, research teams and archives from across Europe.  The Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents (READ) project is teaching computers to read historical handwriting – yes, even Bentham’s!  The Bentham manuscripts are an important test case for this handwritten text recognition technology.  We envisage that we will be able to use this new innovation to support our volunteers – by allowing them to ask the computer to suggest words that they might be unsure about as they transcribe.  We will also be developing an e-learning tool, where users can train themselves to read Bentham’s handwriting.  There will be more news on these developments over the coming months but keep an eye on the project twitter account to follow our progress!

It just leaves me to say thanks to all the staff who have worked on Transcribe Bentham over the past six years and a final thanks to our volunteers.  Transcribe Bentham would be nothing without them and I am continually impressed by their commitment and care.  Their hard work is helping us to move forward with the scholarly edition of Bentham’s writings and spread awareness of his important and influential ideas.