Transcribe Bentham is an award-winning participatory initiative which launched in 2010 and which is based in the Bentham Project at University College London. Its aim is to engage the public in the online transcription (or typing) of original and unstudied manuscript papers written by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the great philosopher and reformer. At the latest count, volunteers have transcribed more than 20,000 pages of Bentham’s writings.
Anyone who is interested in taking part can sign up for an account at our Transcription Desk and start transcribing. Have a look at our quickstart guide and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Why get involved?
- Contribute to research. Bentham wrote thousands upon thousands of manuscripts, many of which remain totally unstudied. Transcripts produced by volunteers are used in the production of the edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, which is the definitive point of reference for all scholars interested in Bentham’s ideas.
- Preserve important documents. By transcribing digital images of Bentham’s papers, volunteers are making it possible for their contents to be read and searched by people all over the world.
- Learn about Bentham, philosophy and palaeography. The Bentham papers provide insights into Bentham’s philosophy of utilitarianism and a vast array of subjects including politics, religion, legal reform and crime and punishment. Volunteers can also develop their palaeography skills as they practice reading and transcribing Bentham’s manuscripts.
- Have fun! Our volunteers tell us that they really enjoy transcribing Bentham. Some compare the task to a crossword puzzle – you need to spend a bit of time working out what the correct transcription might be and you learn a lot along the way.
If any of that sounds appealing, please join us in our mission to preserve and spread awareness of Bentham’s writings!
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