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Grant number like: HK-230965-15

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University of Texas, Austin (Austin, TX 78712-0100)
Sergio Romero (Project Director: February 2015 to June 2019)
Laura C. Mandell (Co Project Director: July 2015 to June 2019)

Digital Humanities Implementation Grants
Digital Humanities

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$215,830 (approved)
$215,591 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2015 – 12/31/2017

Reading the First Books: Multilingual, Early-Modern OCR for Primeros Libros

Enhancement of optical character recognition (OCR) technologies to improve researchers' ability to discover and search early modern, multilingual printed texts. During this phase, the project team would focus on books printed in the Americas before 1601.

Digital facsimile collections of early modern printed books (books printed on hand presses in the 15th-17th century) greatly improve access to these cultural heritage materials for scholars, students, and the general public. The utility and accessibility of these digital collections, however, has been limited by the challenges of transcribing early modern printed books: their linguistic complexity, unstable orthography (spelling and punctuation), and uneven typesetting and inking make these books difficult to read for humans and machines alike. The goal of this project is to develop and implement groundbreaking methods in the automatic transcription of early modern printed books. This will increase access to books that are not just a vital record of historical thought during this exciting period in European, colonial, and indigenous American history, but also reflect the development of a new, transformative technology - the printing press.