Julanne Neal of the Queensland State Archives kindly took the time to answer questions from Sara Brumfield of FromThePage, and discussed their project and experience using the platform.
Julanne Neal is the Reference Archivist of the Queensland State Archives.
First, tell us about your documents.
We are using From the Page to help us with quite a variety of records. Our current projects include prisoner registers, correspondence files containing information regarding the languages of our First Nations people, and our Queensland’s Founding Documents. The prison registers are name-heavy and are very popular with people researching their family histories but prior to transcriptions they were time consuming and labour intensive to search through. Our First Nations Language collection contains information that identifies languages and words of our First Nations people. Our Founding Documents collection contain the letter-books of the first Governor of Queensland, when it was established in 1859, and gives great insight into the trials, tribulations and people involved in founding our state.
What are your goals for the projects?
As a working government archive the material in our collection is not always easy to identify and access, so it is our goal for these projects to increase discoverability and accessibility to our records. For example, without transcription, the names in our prisoner registers have to be searched out manually, across time, and across different prison locations. With the help of From the Page and the community of volunteers and collaborators, these prison registers become easily searchable by a person’s name thus making the historical individuals much easier to find.
How are you recruiting or finding volunteers/collaborators?
Volunteers and collaborators seem to be responding really well to our social media pages and we are getting some wonderfully dedicated and interested people involved with our projects.
Can you share your experience using FromThePage?
We’ve trialled a couple of other crowd sourcing transcription platforms but have found From the Page the easiest and most useful for our type of collection. The vast majority of our collection is manuscript materials and the set ups available on From the Page – especially the field based function – are terrific. The projects and collections are very easy to set up, the volunteers find the programme easy to use, and Ben and Sara are super helpful and responsive if we need help or have any questions.
How does FromThePage & crowdsourcing fit with special collections and archives?
Archives and our collections are not arranged and described in ways that many people find easy to navigate. When people search our collections they are generally looking for specific information about someone or something but those things are not often identified individually by name. We also hold rooms full of material under broad subject headings that we have neither the staff or time to investigate or describe in more detailed ways. This is where From the Page and the wonderful crowdsourcing community are of the most terrific benefit. By helping us transcribe our records, we are making the collection so much more accessible to so many more people, who may not have ever visited us or thought we might hold something relevant to them.
Anything else you'd like to tell us?
Transcribing records helps ensure they are accessible for all Queenslanders, and we’d like to take the opportunity to offer a huge thank you to all of the people who take the time to help us. Without the wonderful online community, these records would take a much longer time to become accessible and available to those interested in them.