Bentham's Collected Works
The work of volunteers serves two main purposes: first, it produces transcripts of Bentham manuscripts of sufficient quality for uploading to UCL's free-to-access digital repository of Bentham's Papers; and second, it allows volunteers to contribute to humanities research, in that their transcripts will act as a starting point for editors of future volumes of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, and volunteers will be credited in any volumes to which they contribute.
Transcribe Bentham has also led to the Bentham Project's involvement in the EU-funded tranScriptorium and READ projects, which are developing solutions for the automated transcription and searching by computers of historic manuscript images.
UCL's Bentham Project was founded in 1959, and is an academic research centre based in UCL's Faculty of Laws. Its main task is producing the new and authoritative edition of Bentham's works, which will supersede the unattractive and incomplete Bowring edition published between 1838 and 1843.
The Bowring edition is unattractive in format, omitted a number of works published in Bentham's lifetime and many which were not published but which survive in manuscript. Much of the editing was of very poor quality, and the account of Bentham's life contained in the last two volumes has been described as 'one of the worst biographies in the English language'.
The policy of the new Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham is to return to what Bentham himself actually wrote, and involves exploring both texts published in Bentham's lifetime and an enormous body of unpublished, and often untranscribed manuscript material.
The new edition is expected to run to an estimated 70 volumes, 33 of which have been published thus far.