Linn’s Diary


Linn’s Diary page 33

This is the first time I transcribe any documents. It is a good experience to see how difficult it is for people to transcribe and study old documents. Transcription is the way to efficiently study a person’s life. While transcribing a person’s work, especially diaries and unpublished works, we can dive into his/her stream of thoughts and understand them at a deeper level. All the informations written are this person’s thoughts and observations. It is interesting to see what is happening in their lives and how they choose to write down informations that seem crucial to them.

The process was very simple. I opened a page of the diary on one side and use TextEdit on one side. For every word that I can’t read, I put a question mark, [?]. In the beginning, most of the texts were question marks. As I read more and more of his hand writing, I started to recognize the letters and eventually the actual words.

Overall, transcribing Linn’s diary can be fun but frustrating at the same time. Many words have became obsolete and unable to read.

There are names on the page that is hard to read without any previous knowledge. Below is an example of such. This is the name of an artist of the London Illustrated News. I can make out that his name is Frank but I couldn’t read his last name.

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Frank [something]

There are days in the diary that are just extremely hard to read. We can tell that Linn was having a bad day when his writings are all over the place. In this part, he was talking about the harsh conditions of the troops. He mentioned people getting sick so perhaps Linn was also sick.

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Example of Linn’s absurd handwriting

Although his handwriting is hard to read, this is a lot easier to read compares to the documents I have seen from Bentham Project. Overall, this has been a fun experience to transcribe his diary. There are a lot to be learned from this. The everyday life of a civil war soldier is harsh. Living in terrible conditions in the midst of a war is not something we can fathom.

Digital Archive

From the first glance at the new DH sample website, you can see much improvement from the previous link. The previous link was just a list of DH projects. The new website categorized all the projects making it much easier to navigate. There are 7 categories to choose from: Archive, Visualization, Mapping, Digital Edition, Network Analysis, Textual Analysis, and Audio Analysis. Depending on what you are working on, you can easily choose a category and pick a project.

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The interface of Indegenous People Archive

The first category I looked at was Archive. I saw three DH projects that are exceptionally well designed. They are all very well put together and easy to navigate. The one that struck me the most was the Indigenous People project, which is from Bucknell Bertrand library. It is very well organized. After clicking on Exploring Collections, the site shows you every document the project has to offer. With the searching mechanism, you can choose documents depending on Content Type, Document Type, Language, and Source Library.

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A picture of a Kiowa married couple

There are many advantages in making digital artifact from archival documents. It is easily accessible and it is widely available. The problem that original documents have is that they can be easily damaged. Similar to the video we watched in class, many documents are in bad state so we don’t have access to them. By putting them online, we can preserve the documents and make it available for anyone who is interested.

The only disadvantage I can think of is the hand-on experience. When holding the documents with your own hands, you can deduct many things from its physical state and the material it is made of. Without personal touch, it is hard to empathize with subject of the document.

There will be many obstacles in creating my DH project. The main challenge would be making it easy to navigate for others. It is hard to create an interface that can help people understand my intent and my thought process.

The Bentham Project


Jeremy Bentham

Portrait of Jeremy Bentham

 This blog allows people from all over the world to help in the transcription of Jeremy Bentham’s, the great British philosopher and reformer, unpublished works. “Many hands make light work. Many hands together make merry work” (Jeremy Bentham). 

The University College London makes all of Bentham’s works publicly available on this site so everyone can give a helping hand in the study of Bentham. There are 26,796 manuscripts and 38% of them are transcribed. 

This project allows us to better understanding of Bentham and his philosophy in progress. Through these manuscripts, the users can read his stream of thoughts and figure out how this man was able to come up with his doctrine of Utilitarianism.  

Bentham’s works are divided under 21 categories: Animal Welfare, Arts, Capital Punishment, Civil Code, Constitutional Code, Convict transportation, Correspondence, Crime & Punishment, Education, Law, Legislation, Moral Philosophy, New South Wales, Panopticon, Penal Code, Political Economy, Preventive Police, Religion, Science, Sexual Morality, and Torture. 

Bentham Manuscript

Example of a typical manuscript

On this site, they categorized his work into 3 difficulties: Easy, Moderate, and Hard. This enables the users to choose a manuscript according to their transcription level. UCL included a page for transcription guidelines to help users. 

This is a typical Bentham’s manuscript on this site. On the right side is his own writing and on the left side is the transcription people have worked on. As you can see, his handwriting is very hard to read. A transcription takes more than one person to be able to completely figure it out. There are phrases crossed out with correction next to them. This shows that people can update every transcription and improve it. This is one of the features that makes this project successful. People are able to bring their ideas and help each other to better understanding of Bentham.