Request for Volunteers – ADM8 Project Document Transcription

Samuel McLean's picture
Call for Volunteers
December 1, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Atlantic History / Studies, British History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Labor History / Studies, Maritime History / Studies

At this time, we are looking for volunteers to help with the transcription of documents for the ADM8 Database Project.

The ADM8 Database Project takes the reports created by the English Admiralty and transcribes them into a relational database. Where other projects take the same data (As well as data from other series and volumes) and create reference sites and projects, this project seeks to make the ADM8 series more accessible, and to keep the information within the context of the individual reports and individual volumes so we can learn more about these documents as well as access the information. The project will eventually contain the entirety of ADM 8 volumes 1 and 2, covering July 1673 to March 1692, a total of 306 reports. At this stage of the project, we are focusing on the Deployment/Disposition reports, which are approximately 240/306 or ~80% of the individual documents. It is hoped that these documents will be entirely transcribed by the end of 2020.

Recently, Sam McLean has created a Document Transcription interface (which he blogs about here) to make transcription must faster and to help eliminate *many* of the errors that were introduced by the previous method of transcription (that included CSV files and PHP scripts). Volunteers will use this interface to transcribe the monthly Deployment Reports from ADM 8 volumes 1 and 2.

Global Maritime History does not receive any funding, nor is it monetized. Unfortunately, this means that there are no funds to pay transcribers for their time and skills. Volunteers will be publicly and prolifically thanked, and Dr McLean would also be happy to provide references for volunteers. Further, Dr McLean would be happy to help volunteers with web development/website management/database design/troubleshooting in exchange for their time (as far as he is able to).

Volunteers will be provided with:

  • A How-To document that provides a step-by-step and field-by-field explanation of the Transcription Interface
  • A guide to the more  common handwriting tricks in the document, and instructions for how to input special characters, abbreviations, and places where the written format of the report does not match the transcription interface
  • links to the transcription of a completed report and the document photos, as an example
  • links to reference documents and other digital projects that  can be used for cross-checking and comparisons
  • all the photos required for each report

Many of the reports are a single page, approximately 30 lines. Familiarity with the period (1673-1692), subject (the Royal Navy, its ships and officers) and documents of that time are helpful (as they would allow transcribers to take better guesses at not-clear-things). However, the clerks who wrote the documents were fairly consistent, and dropboxes are pre-populated with ship, person and location names in order to educate guesses and nearly eliminate duplication. Further, these documents are much generally clearly written. This would be an ideal project for anybody who is looking for more paleography practice, including BA and MA students.

There is no minimum contribution level- transcription of even a single document is appreciated.

If you’re interested in transcribing a document (or more than one), please get in touch with Sam McLean.

Contact Info: 

Dr Sam McLean
Social Media Editor, Global Maritime History