Praise for Transcribe Bentham from the German government!

By Tim Causer, on 4 March 2015

Here at Bentham Towers we were all delighted – and not a little surprised – to hear that the German Secretary of State for Education and Research, Cornelia Quennet-Thielen, gave praise to Transcribe Bentham as a key example of how scholars and the general public can fruitfully collaborate, in a speech to yesterday’s Digital Humanities 2015 summit in Berlin.

Below is a brief extract from the relevant part of her speech (we are very grateful to our friend and colleague, Dr Angela Marciniak, for acquiring a copy of the speech, and to Angela and Dr Michael Quinn of the Bentham Project for the translation).

(…) Please, give more opportunities to interested people to deepen their knowledge online, and don’t forget that this is best achieved by employing user-friendly software.

The London “Transcribe Bentham” Project, which combines open participation and safe-guards for high quality, is a fascinating example of such an approach. Already on its homepage, everyone is able to see how far the transcription of the manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham has advanced. Anyone may open one of the 169 archive boxes virtually, and to sign up to become a transcriber. Maybe “Transcribe Bentham” could also become an inspiration for projects in Germany, not only to disseminate their research among interested parties but to encourage people to participate in.”

We are extremely grateful to the Secretary of State for these warm words, and TB volunteers should be extremely proud that their efforts are being internationally recognised.

Progress update, 21 to 27 February 2015

By Tim Causer, on 2 March 2015

Welcome along to the progress update for the period 21 to 27 February 2015 – please do accept my apologies for its delayed appearance. This was caused by our attendance in Luxembourg at the annual review for the tranScriptorium project in which we are participating. I’m glad to say that the progress which tS made this year was rated ‘excellent’ by the reviewers. Do watch out for news in the coming weeks about the launch of a transcription platform which incorporates the Handwritten Text Recognition technology developed by the tS team….

12,553 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 97 on this time last week. Of these transcripts, 11,264 (90%) have been checked and accepted by TB staff.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

Box No. of manuscripts worked on No. of manuscripts in box Completion
Box 1 248 794 31%
Box 2 470 753 62%
Box 4 2 694 1%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 0 167 0%
Box 8 5 284 1%
Box 9 41 266 15%
Box 15 77 914 9%
Box 18 4 192 2%
Box 27 350 350 COMPLETE
Box 29 22 122 18%
Box 30 1 193 1%
Box 31 18 302 6%
Box 34 39 398 9%
Box 35 286 439 65%
Box 36 34 418 8%
Box 37 31 487 6%
Box 38 82 424 19%
Box 39 11 282 3%
Box 41 85 528 14%
Box 42 88 910 9%
Box 44 53 201 26%
Box 50 169 198 84%
Box 51 380 940 40%
Box 57 18 420 4%
Box 62 57 565 10%
Box 63 155 345 44%
Box 70 306 350 87%
Box 71 663 663 COMPLETE
Box 72 613 664 92%
Box 73 151 151 COMPLETE
Box 79 199 199 COMPLETE
Box 95 126 147 85%
Box 96 534 539 99%
Box 97 136 296 45%
Box 98 221 499 44%
Box 100 194 422 43%
Box 106 56 581 9%
Box 107 502 538 93%
Box 110 7 671 1%
Box 115 276 307 89%
Box 116 505 864 58%
Box 117 365 853 42%
Box 118 253 880 28%
Box 119 535 990 54%
Box 120 27 686 3%
Box 121 134 526 24%
Box 122 304 717 41%
Box 123 42 443 9%
Box 124 15 383 3%
Box 139 40 40 COMPLETE
Box 141 2 381 1%
Box 149 5 581 1%
Box 150 559 972 57%
Box 169 189 728 25%
Add MS 537 730 744 98%
Add MS 538 695 858 81%
Add MS 539 834 948 87%
Add MS 540 64 1012 6%
Add MS 541 325 1258 25%
Overall 12,553 31,767 39%

Again, particular thanks to everyone who has contributed transcripts of Box 150 manuscripts this week.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has donated their time and effort so generously to Transcribe Bentham during the last seven days. It remains as greatly appreciated as ever.

 

Progress update, 14 to 20 February 2015

By Tim Causer, on 20 February 2015

Welcome along to the progress update for the period 14 to 20 February 2015, during which time further superb progress has been made by Transcribe Bentham volunteers.

12,458 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 107 on this time last week. Of these transcripts, 11,208 (90%) have been checked and approved by TB staff – thanks again to everyone for their patience while we work our way through the backlog of submitted transcripts.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

Box No. of manuscripts worked on No. of manuscripts in box Completion
Box 1 248 794 31%
Box 2 470 753 62%
Box 4 2 694 1%
Box 5 200 290 68%
Box 7 0 167 0%
Box 8 4 284 1%
Box 9 41 266 15%
Box 15 77 914 9%
Box 18 4 192 2%
Box 27 350 350 COMPLETE
Box 29 22 122 18%
Box 30 1 193 1%
Box 31 18 302 6%
Box 34 39 398 9%
Box 35 286 439 65%
Box 36 34 418 8%
Box 37 31 487 6%
Box 38 81 424 19%
Box 39 11 282 3%
Box 41 85 528 14%
Box 42 88 910 9%
Box 44 54 201 26%
Box 50 169 198 84%
Box 51 379 940 40%
Box 57 18 420 4%
Box 62 57 565 10%
Box 63 154 345 44%
Box 70 306 350 87%
Box 71 663 663 COMPLETE
Box 72 613 664 92%
Box 73 151 151 COMPLETE
Box 79 199 199 COMPLETE
Box 95 126 147 85%
Box 96 534 539 99%
Box 97 134 296 45%
Box 98 221 499 44%
Box 100 194 422 43%
Box 106 53 581 9%
Box 107 501 538 93%
Box 110 7 671 1%
Box 115 276 307 89%
Box 116 505 864 58%
Box 117 363 853 42%
Box 118 250 880 28%
Box 119 535 990 54%
Box 120 27 686 3%
Box 121 134 526 24%
Box 122 304 717 41%
Box 123 41 443 9%
Box 124 15 383 3%
Box 139 40 40 COMPLETE
Box 141 2 381 1%
Box 149 5 581 1%
Box 150 508 972 52%
Box 169 189 728 25%
Add MS 537 730 744 98%
Add MS 538 695 858 81%
Add MS 539 834 948 87%
Add MS 540 63 1012 6%
Add MS 541 317 1258 25%
Overall 12,458 31,767 39%

Thanks in particular those who have worked on manuscripts from Box 150; all submissions to TB will go towards assisting in the production of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, though transcripts of the Box 150 manuscripts are actively helping to shape the course of current research, as Dr Michael Quinn of the Bentham Project explained earlier this week.

Readers might also be interested in the Bentham Project’s latest online publication, A Visit (in 1831) to Jeremy Bentham, by George Wheatley (edited and introduced by Dr Kris Grint). Wheatley describes in detail his visit to Bentham’s home at Queen’s Square Place in Westminster, Bentham’s domestic arrangements, his notable visitors, working practices, and odd meal times. Bentham’s mischievous sense of humour comes across strongly, and perhaps most amusing is Wheatley’s description of how Bentham dictated to an amanuensis whilst being shaved! The Visit can be read online, or downloaded in either PDF or XML format from UCL Discovery.

Finally (and tangentially), on the UCL Laws website you can read my description of a visit last year to the remote and beautiful Norfolk Island, to talk about its past a penal settlement for an episode of Coast Australia.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has donated their time and effort so generously to Transcribe Bentham during the last seven days. It remains as greatly appreciated as ever.

 

Box 150 update

By Tim Causer, on 19 February 2015

Volunteers working on manuscripts from Box 150 will, do doubt, be mightily relieved to hear that we have updated the list of untranscribed manuscripts from that particular box. This should make it considerably more straightforward to find material to transcribe!

Following on from Dr Michael Quinn’s note of thanks and discussion of the importance of this material, he is particularly interested in the following manuscripts:

  • Folios 233-64
  • Folios 266-79
  • Folios 283-9
  • Folios 428-561
  • Folios 574-640
  • Folios 642-99
  • Folios 701-17

If you are considering whether to work on Box 150 manuscripts, help with these manuscripts would be enormously appreciated!

Box 150: a thank-you from the Bentham Project

By Tim Causer, on 16 February 2015

As we mentioned in a post at the start of this year, the Bentham Project was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant, to produce the authoritative edition of Bentham’s writings on political economy for the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham. Dr Michael Quinn, Senior Research Associate at the Bentham Project, is carrying out this work, and the major task for this year is editing Bentham’s work on the Thames Police Bill. These manuscripts are contained in Box 150 of the Bentham Papers, and volunteers have very generously been transcribing these manuscripts. This transcription is of material benefit to the editing of the economic writings, as Dr Quinn explains below in a note of thanks.

——————————

Dear TB volunteers,

I wanted to say a simple thanks to all those who have been beavering away at box 150, containing JB’s efforts to draft (and to explain (at some considerable length!)) legislation on preventive police. My task as editor is hugely facilitated by high quality transcripts, and I’m very happy to say that the material I’ve reviewed so far is of very high quality indeed!

Just in case anyone is becoming weary of repeatedly transcribing ‘be it further enacted’, ‘hereinafter mentioned’, ‘aforesaid’, or even ‘Board of Police Revenue’, I thought I might try and explain the potential significance of this material to Bentham scholars. First, Bentham decided in 1769 that he had a genius for legislation, but, with the notable exception of the first volume of Constitutional Code, and one or two other writings, we don’t actually have that much of Bentham trying to write legislation. Once this volume appears, we will have a first draft of a ‘Thames Police Bill’, a ‘Summary View’ of that Bill, a draft of a ‘Police Revenue Bill’, an entire set of notes of guidance to that Bill, and two sets of ‘Observations’ on the Bill, in which Bentham seeks to explain and justify its provisions. One of Bentham’s mantras was the necessity for an indissoluble link between ‘rule’ on the one hand, and ‘rationale’ on the other; between the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of law. This project shows him trying to live up to his own prescription, in a way which should cast a fascinating light on his approach to the practicalities of making legal rules.

Second, this material is also likely to help with understanding Bentham’s concept of ‘Indirect Legislation’, which encompasses all the tools a legislator can bring to bear beyond simple command (You shall) and prohibition (You shall not). In this connection his deployment of licencing for some eighteen trades, and of ‘recognizances’ (a bit like bail bonds: forfeitable sureties that licence holders must deposit) as guarantors of good behaviour, provide an example of indirect legislation in action.

I know some of this stuff is a little dry, but I think it has a fascination all of its own, especially in watching Bentham try to accommodate utilitarian rules within the terminology and phraseology of eighteenth century English Parliamentary draughtsmanship! Please do keep up the good work! I promise that I’ll offer a monthly update on editing progress, and would be happy to try and answer any questions that you might have (m.quinn@ucl.ac.uk). Good luck, and happy transcribing,

Michael Quinn