By Claire Ross, on 28 May 2010
A Brief introduction to one of the UCLDH projects
By Valerie Wallace
Transcribe Bentham is a unique project funded by the AHRC DEDEFI fund and hosted by the Bentham Project in collaboration with the new Centre for Digital Humanities. Its purpose is to engage the public in the transcription of manuscripts written by Jeremy Bentham, the great philosopher and reformer. There are 60,000 Bentham papers in UCL’s library, many of which are untranscribed and unstudied, but which are potentially of immense intellectual importance. The project is unique in that it is harnessing the power of crowd-sourcing – a relatively new phenomenon – to aid transcription; something which has never been attempted before. We are designing a new on-line transcription tool using mediawiki which will be made available for use by others at the conclusion of the project. Transcribe Bentham is also a public engagement initiative as its aim is to promote Bentham studies generally and to encourage school learners and enthusiasts to participate. It is a heritage learning exercise which engages the community in the preservation and documentation of the nation’s history. An online discussion forum will encourage input and social interaction thus widening participation in the field. The community will be actively involved in shaping the presentation of history as the transcriptions will eventually form the basis of new printed editions of Bentham’s works, as well as a fully searchable on-line database. The project will, moreover, raise awareness of UCL, with which Bentham is intimately attached.