Over the last few months, the University of Delaware and the Cecil County Historical Society have been using FromThePage to transcribe the diary of a minister serving in the American Civil War. They’re using the project to expose undergraduates to primary sources while also improving access to an important local history document.
The university also put together a lovely video providing background on the project and interviewing students and faculty members involved in the project:
One of the things I find most interesting about the project is the collaboration between digital humanities-focused university faculty and the county historical society:
Kasey Grier, director of the Museum Studies Program and the History Media Center at the university, says the transcription will be done by students in a process called “crowd sourcing.”
“Crowd sourcing,” according to Grier, “is when students in remote locations, review the handwritten text and try their hand at transcribing it. They then submit their contributions which are reviewed and put up online. Eventually, all of the diary entires will be available for anyone to access and read.”
Historical Society of Cecil County President Paul Newton says the society welcomes this collaboration with the University of Delaware and hopes to strengthen it because it broadens the society’s horizons and reach.
“The university’s focus is in the area of the digital humanities, which allows us to take largely unused and un-accessed collections and get the material out to a broader audience for study. It is also a preservation method as it reduces handling and makes interpretation much easier,” Grier said.
You can see the Joseph Brown Diary and the students’ work on it at the project site on FromThePage.com.