Melissa Terras

Transcribe Bentham: Sharing Labour, Sharing Platforms, Sharing Data

2014 Seminar Series / Monday 20 October, 2014

The Transcribe Bentham project is an award winning, innovative, ambitious, open-source, participatory online environment that has tested the suitability of crowdsourcing for document transcription of cultural and heritage material. Although twenty volumes of the English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer Jeremy Bentham’s (1748-1832) correspondence have been published so far by the Bentham Project, UCL Library Services holds 60,000 untranscribed folios. Transcribe Bentham has tested the feasibility of outsourcing the work of manuscript transcription to members of the public, aiming to digitise Bentham folios, and, through a wiki-based interface, allowing transcribers access to images of unpublished manuscript images, in order to create an encoded transcript for checking by UCL experts and further publication online. This paper presents results, themes and issues which have emerged from this successful initiative, which recently saw the 10,000th Bentham transcribed by volunteer – or “volunpeer” – labour.