Jul 08 2015

Marine Lives – Summer Training Programme

Marine Lives is a digital project to transcribe Admiralty court records dating from the 1650s. The project site is a wiki which enables transcribers to work collaboratively. The British Library has invited the project to be part of the UK Web Archive. The Marine Lives Wiki can be found here.

The Summer Training programme is a 10 week programme which brings together volunteers from around the world, both experts and amateurs, who work with a coordinator to learn how to transcribe and work on the site.

Our first week introduced us to the site and taught us how to create pages, upload images, create links and produce special formats (eg bold and italic) within the wiki.

The documents being transcribed are divided into 3 main sections: Act Books, Depositions, and Personal Answers, as well as several smaller categories. There are also a series of glossaries which cover different specialist areas, e.g. commodities, legal and marine.

The markup used for editing the wiki is similar to the markup I have used with other computer programs:

Bold: 3 ‘ either side of the word

Italic: 2 ‘ either side of the word

Underline: <u> text </u>

Headers: = header size 1 =

== header size 2 ==

=== header size 3 ===

==== header size 4 ====

To include an image: [[File: filename|sizepx|thumb|position|display text]]

Each page for transcription is made up of a high quality image and a transcription. The name of each page has several key elements: the parent volume (HCA 13/63), the folio number (f.455), and whether it is the right (recto) or left (verso) hand page, and ‘Annotate’.

Key metadata is included when the page is created or edited, for example whether an image has been uploaded, whether it has been transcribed, by whom and the date.

My First Transcription

Having learnt the basics of wiki editing and created our biography for the site, we now move onto transcription. My first page for transcription is HCA 13/124.

This is a page from HCA Personal Answers and is made up of responses from “Christ: Collman” and “William Hargrave” from 1651.

One of the key challenges with any transcription of handwritten material is deciphering the handwriting itself, it is not unlike translating from a foreign language in that you use the context of what you have already transcribed to make sense of the words which are unclear.In addition, as these are Admiralty legal documents there is an amount of jargon and stock phrases, from the legal and maritime worlds, which make the process tricky for the beginner.

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