Associate Professor Tim Sherratt reflects on his new project, Revealing the Real Face of White Australia:
On 9-10 September, students from Tim Sherratt’s digital heritage class took over King’s Hall in Old Parliament House for a ‘transcribe-a-thon’. Across the weekend, students and volunteers (including Tim’s seven year old daughter) worked to turn digitised records relating to the administration of the White Australia policy into data to support new possibilities for research and exploration. It was a great success, but there’s still plenty more to do.
Transcription is easy, and brings you face to face with a remarkable set of records held by the National Archives of Australia. Just jump on to the website and start — you can do as little or as much as you want.
As well as transcribing text, volunteers are marking photographs, handprints, and Chinese characters so they can be easily extracted from the digital images. All the data generated by the project will be made available in openly-licenced datasets.
The site uses the Scribe Framework for collaborative transcription developed by Zooniverse and the New York Public Library. It’s ideally suited to getting data out of structured documents such as forms or registers. Tim will also be developing a guide to setting up your own transcription projects — it’s not as hard as you think.