X Close

Transcribe Bentham


A Participatory Initiative


Archive for the 'Events' Category

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, 30 November to 6 December 2013

By Tim Causer, on 6 December 2013

Welcome along to the progress update for 30 November to 6 December 2013, during which time further excellent progress has been made by Transcribe Bentham volunteers. This week, 12,352 words of text have been transcribed, along with an additional 3,863 words of TEI XML.

6,567 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 43 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 6,290 (95%) have been locked after going through our quality-control process, up 31 on this time last week.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

Amongst the interesting things transcribed this week are Bentham on experimentation with vacuums (thanks to Keith Thompson for transcribing), and Bentham’s apparent business proposal to Logan Henderson to produce ‘ethereal matches’ (thanks to Jan Copes).

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has contributed to Transcribe Bentham during the last seven days. Your work is as greatly appreciated as ever.

Progress update, 10 to 16 August

By Tim Causer, on 16 August 2013

Welcome to the Transcribe Bentham progress update for the period 10 to 16 August, during which time further good progress has been made by volunteer transcribers. 6,344 words of Bentham text were transcribed during the past seven days, along with a further 2,717 words of TEI XML.

5,917 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is 26 up on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 5,631 have been accepted and are locked, which is an increase of 25 on this time last week.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

Regular transcribers may have noticed a few niggles with the upgraded Transcription Desk: for example, the link from the user page to your talk board is currently not available, and nor are points and ranks showing up on the user pages at the moment. As a result, we haven’t been able to update the leaderboard for a few weeks. But please do rest assured that your points are being tallied, and that these problems are being worked upon and will soon be ironed out. If you come across any further problems, then do contact us and we can look into them.

The new Transcription Desk also allows you to gain detailed feedback on your submitted transcripts. If you wish to see what changes have been made to your transcripts after checking by Transcribe Bentham staff, then please do consult our guide on how to do so.

Panopticon exhibition poster

Panopticon exhibition poster

Finally, the Panopticon: Experimental Tales of Jeremy Bentham exhibition, co-ordinated by the Design with Heritage team, opened here at UCL yesterday evening.We are delighted to say that the exhibition showcases the work of Transcribe Bentham volunteers, and displays many of the manuscripts which they have transcribed and explore.

The exhibition displays ‘facsimile manuscripts from UCL Special Collections … enhanced by projected images and text, weaving a different tale for each visitor’. It’s an excellent presentation, open 1 to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, until 5 September, and we highly recommend entering the very atmospheric venue to find out more about Bentham’s life and work.

What with the Panopticon exhibition, and the Bentham manuscripts and transcripts on display in UCL’s Octagon Gallery, the work of volunteer transcribers has never been better publicised. We do, however, hope to reach an even wider audience in the next few weeks. All we can say at the moment is: who would have guessed that tripe could taste so good?

Thank you, as always, to everyone who had so generously donated their time to Transcribe Bentham during the last seven days. It remains very much appreciated by us all.

Progress update, 16 to 22 March 2013, and this week’s finds

By Tim Causer, on 22 March 2013

Welcome to the progress update for the period 16 to 22 March, during which time further excellent progress has been made: 19,530 words (including TEI mark-up) have been transcribed during the past seven days.

5,273 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 38 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 4,999 (94%) are complete – nearly there!

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

  • Box 2: 394 manuscripts transcribed of 753 (52%)
  • Box 27: 350 of 350 (100%)
  • Box 35: 279 of 439 (63%)
  • Box 50: 135 of 198 (67%)
  • Box 51: 358 of 940 (38%)
  • Box 62: 53 of 565 (9%)
  • Box 70: 257 of 350 (73%)
  • Box 71: 663 of 663 (100%)
  • Box 72: 608 of 664 (91%)
  • Box 73: 151 of 151 (100%)
  • Box 79: 198 of 199 (99%)
  • Box 95: 120 of 147 (81%)
  • Box 96: 526 of 539 (97%)
  • Box 97: 52 of 296 (17%)
  • Box 98: 212 of 499 (42%)
  • Box 100: 146 of 422 (33%)
  • Box107:  93 of 538 (17%)
  • Box 115: 275 of 307 (89%)
  • Box 116: 365 of 864 (42%)
  • Box 139: 38 of 38 (100%)
  • Overall: 59% of the 8,925 manuscripts currently uploaded to the website have been transcribed thus far.

Volunteers have again made a number of interesting finds among the material. Joy Lloyd has transcribed more of the panopticon manuscripts from Box 107: ‘The Sotimion, or Establishment for the preservation of Female delicacy and reputation‘, was situated just down the road from the ‘Nothotrophium, or Asylum for the innocent offspring of clandestine forbidden love’. In the vast panopticon area, Bentham even envisaged a ‘Panopticon-Hill Tavern’, to entertain visitors to both the panopticon penitentiary and the Sotimion. Convicts would maintain the connecting roads and tend to the flower verges, and a ‘fish-pond’  with ‘the water-lily and other beautiful aquatics’ would be another attraction. There would be ‘Fountains of Beer Punch & Wine worked with compressed Air’ for ‘entertainment of the populace’, and Bentham also described how visitors would be admitted to the Sotimion.

In another manuscript transcribed by Joy, it appears that the Sotimion would have had a coffee-room, from which any woman could be black-balled, and the Panopticon complex would have its own burial ground.

Elsewhere, in quite a topical few manuscripts, Peter Hollis transcribed Bentham’s ‘leading principles’ of newspapers. These included ‘Universality, Authenticity, Impartiality, Decency’, and that any newly established daily newspaper should ‘be perfectly independent of all parties, and [be] strictly impartial’, and that ‘all profligacy, personal abuse, and scurrility should be rigorously excluded’. Perhaps Bentham would have made a useful witness for Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into press standards…

Lea Stern continues to transcribe nuggets of gold about Bentham’s views on transporting convicts to New South Wales, and Keith Thompson has worked on manuscripts relating to Bentham’s plans for a ‘School of Legislation’.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has given their time to Transcribe Bentham during the last seven days. It remains greatly appreciated by us all.



perhaps news to those witnesses who gave evidence to Lord Justice Leveson last year.

Bake it like Bentham

By Tim Causer, on 15 March 2013


Adding 1d (and more) of labour

As regular followers of the Transcribe Bentham Facebook and Twitter accounts will know, volunteers have recently been transcribing a series of recipes compiled (presumably by Bentham) for the panopticon prison kitchen.

As part of the Journal of Victorian Culture‘s historical bake-off competition, I recently had a go at producing Bentham’s recipe for ‘baked apple pudding’, with mixed results (though I’m glad to say that no-one at the Bentham Project was poisoned as a result of tasting it). You can read about this attempt at the JVC website.

Below, you will find links to all of the manuscripts containing Bentham’s cooking tips and recipes. Should you feel suitably inspired to make something yourself, we would be delighted to host your account of it and any pictures here on the Transcribe Bentham blog – just drop us an email!

General cooking directions