When the COVID pandemic stuck last spring, thousands of cultural heritage sites, including the Washington Library and Mount Vernon, had to find ways to help team members do work from home. That wasn’t always easy, especially as so much of our normal work requires a physical presence.
One of our solutions at the Library was to use this time to transcribe the voluminous correspondence of Harrison Dodge, Mount Vernon’s superintendent in the late 19th century.
And to do that, we turned to a digital platform called FromThePage. FromthePage is a crowdsourcing transcription tool that allows users to transcribe historical documents from the comfort of their own homes. Since last March, for example, our Dodge project collaborators have made nearly 9,000 page edits and contributed over 400 research notes.
So on today’s episode, you’ll meet Sara and Ben Brumfield, the creators of FromThePage. Inspired by their involvement in Wikipedia’s early days, and hoping to find ways to transcribe treasured family heirlooms, the Brumfields set out to create a way for people – including those of you listening right now – to collaboratively transcribe the past.
Check out our show notes or go to www.fromthepage.com to find out how you can join a crowdsource transcription project.
About Our Guests:
Sara and Ben Brumfield are the proprietors of Brumfield Labs, a software development firm, and the creators of FromThePage. Sara earned a BA in Computer Science and the Study of Women and Gender from Rice University. Ben took his BA in Computer Science and Linguistics from Rice University.
About Our Host:
Jim Ambuske, Ph.D., leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. A historian of the American Revolution, Scotland, and the British Atlantic World, Ambuske graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA Law, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project. He is currently at work on a book about emigration from Scotland in the era of the American Revolution as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.