1 Year Anniversary of Anti-Slavery Manuscripts at the Boston Public Library

Hi there,
One year ago today (National Handwriting Day, no less!), we launched Anti-Slavery Manuscripts at the Boston Public Library.
In the year since launch, our incredible community of transcribers has spent thousands of hours helping to transcribe the Boston Public Library’s Anti-Slavery Collection.
For that, we want to say:
Thank you.
We couldn’t do this without you. Your transcriptions, questions, discussions, and feedback are absolutely essential to this project. Since January 23, 2018:
  • Your numbers have grown! So far, 8,654 people have participated in the project.
  • You’ve submitted over half a million lines of transcribed text. 589,204 annotations, to be exact.
  • You’ve completed thousands of letters. So far, 3,387 letters have been retired from the project (and this number keeps growing!).
  • You’re an international community. You come from all over the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Russia.
  • You like to talk. You’ve made 7,748 comments on 2,895 discussions on our Talk boards!
  • You show up — in person! Last year on June 20th, The Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston hosted their annual Juneteenth celebration. From 5PM until 10PM, scores of interested and motivated attendees came to transcribe on five dedicated laptops. The crowd was constant and large for the entire five hour block, and didn’t wane one bit.
The research team have been busy, too! On the Zooniverse side of things, we’re currently looking through the raw and aggregated data from the first set of letters.You can see an example of the transcription data below:

We’re tweaking the parameters of our aggregation methods and identifying specific elements within the aggregated output that need cleanup (keep up with the blog for more information on this, coming soon!). Once we’ve identified the method that produces the highest quality aggregated results, we’ll start adding transcriptions to the BPL database.

In the meantime, we still need your help transcribing! We’re currently asking volunteers to help us transcribe a set of 2,622 letters written between 1840 and 1849. Our complete dataset includes letters written all the way through 1900 (about 12,000 in total!), so there’s a lot more to be done. Once again, thank you for everything. Happy National Handwriting Day, and happy transcribing!
Tom & the BPL team
Sam & the Zooniverse team