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HND-284973-22

Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005)
Diane Katherine Jakacki (Project Director: July 2021 to present)
Evolving Hands: Building Workflows and Scalable Practices for Handwriting

The development and publication of training materials and documentation for the automatic transcription of historical manuscripts, based on three case studies from the Gertrude Bell Archive, the Records of Early English Drama, and archival collections held at Bucknell University. The UK partner, Newcastle University, is requesting £53,344 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Transcription has evolved dramatically in the 21st century. Originally volunteer-driven, this required pre-existing understanding of terms, subjects, and spellings within digitized collections. Two tools changing this model within digital curation are Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR). OCR is ubiquitous in mass digitisation but has substantial limitations, while HTR is still unfamiliar in cultural institutions. Evolving Hands undertakes 3 case studies ranging across document forms to demonstrate how these tools can be used in curation: handwritten and printed letters, diaries, ethnographies, financial accounts and pedagogical documents from multiple centuries and languages. By covering a wide variety of periods and document forms the project can foster responsible, responsive support for cultural institutions, and establish more effective workflows that fill the gap between digitization, semantic-oriented encoding, and data discoverability.

Participating institutions:
Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA) - Applicant/Recipient
Newcastle University (Newcastle upon Tyne) - Participating Institution

Project fields:
History, General; Interdisciplinary Studies, General; Languages, General

Program:
NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions

Division:
Digital Humanities

Totals:
$43,875 (approved)
$43,875 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2022 – 1/31/2024