Texas Digital Library Conference System, TCDL 2012

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Tapping into our users' expertise: A crowdsourced transcription project
Kathryn Stallard

Last modified: 2012-04-16


Southwestern University owns a small 44 page diary written in 1846 by a soldier who fought at the Siege of Monterrey. Collaborating with Ben Brumfield and using his beta software (FromThePage), Southwestern University successfully crowdsourced the transcription of this hard-to-read diary. A researcher who happened to be using another of Southwestern’s Texana collections was invited to participate in the project and ultimately transcribed the entire diary before the project even went public. The researcher, a serious amateur historian, added considerable valuable content including the identification of key individuals and place names.

In addition to illustrating how one researcher’s knowledge and expertise served the institution – as well as the researcher, the project also provides an example of a potential academic digital humanities venture. For example, a Texas history class could have taken on the transcription, requiring students to do considerable research to provide the commentary that our expert amateur historian had in his head.

The project URL is: http://beta.fromthepage.com/ZenasMatthews


crowdsourcing, digital preservation, user relations, digital humanities