"Crowdsourcing" Historic Documents



14 February 2014

Here’s a valuable educational opportunity for all who love old documents and Alabama history: two document-transcription (and photograph-identification) projects offered by the Archives Department of the University of Alabama. We quote here from its invitation:

"The University Libraries now has two Crowdsourcing projects to allow users to ... transcribe materials ...from our collections.  Crowdsourcing is defined as a distributed problem-solving and production process that involves outsourcing a task to a group of people—it allows difficult and time-consuming projects to be tackled a bit at a time, and by a large group of individuals, working asynchronously and at their own pace. . . .

"Cryptic 19th century handwriting might be impossible to read for some, but for others it is an exciting puzzle just waiting to be decoded. Crowdsourcing allows new roads to access materials, and a great sense of accomplishment for users.  . . .

"Crowdsourcing [also]  allows users from the comfort of their own computer or mobile device to tag photographs, identifying people, places and things that were not recorded when the image was collected and not available when it was digitized. Historic University of Alabama photographs from a certain period are a snap to identify for alumni of that period. 

"We welcome your questions, comments, thoughts and ideas about these crowdsourcing projects.  Please contact us!"


Do volunteer! It's a great way to share your skills while learning social nuances of past societies and building a mental repertoire of historical context.