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Archive for the 'Transcription' Category

Transcription Update – 26 May to 22 June 2018

By Louise Seaward, on 22 June 2018

Howdy! Welcome to another transcription update from Transcribe Bentham.  It’s time to shine a light on how many pages our diligent volunteers have been working on over the past month.  As ever, we owe them a huge thanks for their hard work!

Here are the full statistics for the initiative – as of 22 June 2018.

20,429 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed. Of these transcripts, 19,494 (95%) have been checked and approved by TB staff.

Over the past four weeks, volunteers have worked on a total of 101 manuscript pages. This means that an average of 25 pages have been transcribed each week during the past month.

Check out the Benthamometer for more information on how much has been transcribed from each box of Bentham’s papers!

Project update – celebrating the digitisation of Bentham’s manuscripts!

By Louise Seaward, on 11 June 2018

I’m sure most of you saw our fabulous news about the complete digitisation of Bentham’s manuscripts.  Over 95,000 images of Bentham’s writings from UCL Special Collections and The British Library are now available in digital form – and we thought this was worthy of a bit of a celebration!

On 6 June 2018 about 30 of our friends and supporters joined us for a party in Bentham House, the newly refurbished home of the Bentham Project and the UCL Faculty of Laws.

Our party in full swing!

As the wine flowed, Bentham Project staff mingled with colleagues from The British Library, UCL Digital Media Services, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, UCL Library and further afield.  We were also delighted to welcome four volunteer transcribers to the party – this was possibly the first time that we have had several volunteers in the same room!  Annette Brindle (Annieb2), Simon Croft (S.D.Croft), Diane Folan (Diane_Folan) and Gill Hague (ohsoldgirl) were all in attendance and took the opportunity to share some transcription tips and tricks with each other.

Transcribe Bentham volunteers Annette Brindle, Simon Croft and Gill Hague.

 

Transcribers Diane Folan and Simon Croft puzzle over some tricky Bentham marginalia.

Of course, you can’t have a celebration without a few speeches.  Professor Philip Schofield, director of the Bentham Project, gave an overview of the history of Transcribe Bentham: from its origins in 2010 to our present-day experiments with Handwritten Text Recognition technology.  Professor Melissa Terras, formerly of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, now at the University of Edinburgh, spoke about how important Transcribe Bentham has become in the wider digital humanities landscape.  It was then up to me to convey our gratitude to everyone who supports and contributes to Transcribe Bentham – especially our loyal transcribers!

It’s time for speeches from Professor Philip Schofield and Dr Louise Seaward.

Happily we also received multiple messages of congratulations from volunteers and academics who were unable to attend the party.  We include them below to give a flavour of Transcribe Bentham’s international standing.  With thanks to everyone who sent their good wishes!


Thanks to Transcribe Bentham’s staff, volunteers and supporters for sharing so many of your lessons learnt, for the benefit of many others interested in the potential for crowdsourcing and online participation in work on cultural heritage collections. Congratulations on achieving this milestone, and here’s to many more in the future.

Cheers,

Mia Ridge, The British Library


Transcribe Bentham is not just an inspiration for all digitization projects: It also demonstrates, that highly demanding tasks–like transcribing and tagging–can be done efficiently and collaboratively in the digital age. Congrats and Chapeau.

Tobias Hodel, University of Zurich


To all involved in the Bentham Project, I’m so sorry I can’t be with you at the celebration.  It’s wonderful to see all the volunteers taking part in transcribing Bentham.  More than 20,000 pages of Bentham’s writing transcribed by volunteers — this must be productive of utility for those who are freely choosing to do the transcribing, for the wider audience whose reading of Bentham’s unknown work is thereby facilitated, and in the long run, I hope, for those who will be affected by changes in our thinking and policies that stem from a better understanding of Bentham. 

Peter Singer, Princeton University and University of Melbourne


I would add that I enjoy the Bentham Project for three reasons: 1. puzzling out the letters on the page, 2. fitting the words together to make sense, (rather like a cryptic crossword), 3. the occasional gem of insight into life and thought from the early nineteenth century.

Keith Thompson, Transcribe Bentham volunteer


The news about the completion of the digitisation of the main collections is wonderful, and many congratulations to all concerned (a huge number of people, of course!).

Thanks for the invitation to the event on 6 June. Unfortunately I can’t be there, which is a pity. I’d like to say I’ll be with you in spirit, but I think Bentham would disapprove.

Roger Crisp, University of Oxford


I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the project. I had completed a Masters in Criminology and when I read about it, I was keen to help. It was fascinating to have access to the originals and to be able to make a contribution, however small to making Bentham’s work accessible to the public.  Congratulations to all involved. It proves that together we can do great things. 

Olga Núñez Miret, Transcribe Bentham volunteer


When I joined Transcribe Bentham in 2010, I could not have anticipated the significant impact it would have on Bentham Studies, Digital Humanities, and Citizen Science, and I feel honoured and grateful to have been part of the project at its outset.

Congratulations to all—staff and volunteers—who have contributed to making Transcribe Bentham such a noteworthy scholarly resource and an important contribution to knowledge.

Justin Tonra, Research Associate on Transcribe Bentham (2010)


During my PhD, I went to the Bentham Project and I had to get through some difficult pages of Bentham’s handwriting… One day, I find a musical score on the top of one of Bentham’s manuscript and then, written on the side of the next one, an unfinished score with more notes. At this moment, I thought: that’s great I will be able to “hear” Bentham’s handwriting now and even to listen what he likes…

I don’t know if one day we will be able to identify the source of this score but I think it illustrates the experience of transcribing Bentham’s material… you discover unexpected things which, at first sight, seems partially irrelevant, and, then, you begin to think that there is a beauty in it (until the mystery of the score is solved!).

Before the complete digitalization of 100,000 Bentham pages, I used to look at Transcribe Bentham and I was happy to discover the new good quotes and progress made thanks to the volunteers (thanks Tim!).  Now that this is done, more discovery will (hopefully) happen and this is great news for history of political thought and classical utilitarianism!

Benjamin Bourcier, Université Catholique de Lille


If you have any questions about the digitisation or would like to view images that have not yet been put online, feel free to contact us.

Funding for the digitisation was provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UCL Digital Media Services and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.  The Bentham Project is also recognised as a British Academy Research Project.

Transcription Update – 28 April to 25 May 2018

By Louise Seaward, on 31 May 2018

It’s that time again – we’re collating our latest transcription statistics for the past month.  A sincere thank you goes out to all our volunteer transcribers for their efforts.

In case you missed it – we’re still on a high from last week’s announcement.  The central collection of Bentham’s papers have now been completely digitised, woohoo!

Here are the full statistics for the initiative – as of 25 May 2018.

20,328 manuscript pages have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed. Of these transcripts, 19,381 (95%) have been checked and approved by TB staff.

Over the past four weeks, volunteers have worked on a total of 70 manuscript pages. This means that an average of 18 pages have been transcribed each week during the past month.

Check out the Benthamometer for more information on how much has been transcribed from each box of Bentham’s papers!

Project Update – Bentham Papers now completely digitised!

By Louise Seaward, on 25 May 2018

A monumental day has finally dawned – the digitisation of Bentham’s papers is now complete!

The digitisation of Bentham’s writings has always been a central element of the Transcribe Bentham initiative, in order to make his philosophy more accessible to researchers and members of the public.  We have achieved something tremendous – thousands upon thousands of images of Bentham’s manuscripts are now available in electronic form.

We owe special thanks to UCL Digital Media Services (Tony Slade and Raheel Nabi especially), UCL Library Special Collections (Mandy Wise, Dan Mitchell and the rest of their team) and The British Library (Sandra Tuppen, Neil Mcowlen and their team) for taking care of the digitisation.  I would also like to thank present and past staff of Transcribe Bentham for the work that they have done to support the digitisation.

We now have digital images from the 173 boxes of Bentham Papers held in Special Collections at UCL, which include Bentham’s thoughts on his Constitutional Code, the Panopticon prison and the Church of England amongst other subjects.   A further 20 boxes of material from The British Library have also been digitised, some of which comprise letters to and from Bentham and his family.  In total, we now have a whopping collection of over 95,000 digitised images (around 80,000 from UCL and 15,000 from The British Library).  These images are linked to detailed metadata prepared by Bentham Project researchers, some of which is available online via the Bentham Papers Database.

Lots of this material is already available online via our Transcription Desk and the digital repository of UCL Library.  Over the coming months, the rest of the digitised papers will be uploaded to the websites of UCL and The British Library.

Digitisation proved to be a long process.  We prepared for the launch of Transcribe Bentham in 2010 by digitising a few boxes from the UCL collection and have continued to steadily digitise material over the past seven years.  In 2012 we received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitise Bentham manuscripts held in The British Library.  Although there remain a handful of Bentham folios held in other archives around the world, we have now digitally united the two largest collections of Bentham material for the first time.

Digitisation was also labour-intensive.  It involved hours spent by UCL Digital Media Services in a darkened basement sifting through delicate manuscripts, taking images, refining their quality and matching them to metadata records.  We frequently had to transport boxes of Bentham’s papers across the UCL campus, sometimes in taxis but more often by hand, dragging a loaded trolley across Gower Street.  Intensive manual checks of long lists of images were also necessary to ensure (as far as possible!) that all folios had been digitised.

These images are an enviable resource for scholarship and public engagement, making it possible for anyone around the world to read Bentham’s ideas in their original form.  Transcriptions provided by volunteers on Transcribe Bentham are helping to enhance the accessibility of these papers, meaning that they can be explored more easily.  Digitisation speeds up the Bentham Project’s work on the scholarly edition of Bentham’s writings.  Researchers at the project can now easily consult digital images on their computer when they wish to transcribe a page or double-check the spelling of a difficult word.  Excitingly, our images and transcripts represent a dataset that can also be exploited with new digital techniques.  We are already experimenting with training Handwritten Text Recognition technology to process Bentham’s handwriting as part of the READ project and there are intriguing possibilities for text mining, mapping and network analysis ready for future scholars.

We are planning to mark this digital milestone with a celebratory event at UCL on 6 June for everyone who has been involved with or supported the initiative.  Photos coming soon on the blog!

If you have any questions about the digitisation or would like to view images that have not yet been put online, feel free to contact us.

Funding for the digitisation was provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UCL Digital Media Services and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.  The Bentham Project is also recognised as a British Academy Research Project.

Technical issues – sorted!

By Louise Seaward, on 10 May 2018

We’re happy to report that the technical issues we reported on the Transcription Desk in April have now been resolved by our technical support at Digital Services, Co-Sector, University of London. Phew!

All TEI tags in a transcription should now be correctly displayed in the ‘Preview’ tab and in each saved transcript.  So hopefully our volunteers will find that transcribing has become a bit easier, once again.

Thank you for bearing with us during the blip.  If you do notice anything else that is not quite right with the Transcription Desk, please let us know and we will do our best to get it sorted out.