Transcribe Bentham

Transcribe Bentham is inviting participants to what they call “the first major crowdsourcing transcription project”.

The Transcribe Bentham Project, based at University College London, has produced digital images of a large selection of  original and unstudied manuscript papers written by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the great philosopher and reformer. These digital images are now made available through the the project’s Transcription Desk – an interface where the image is displayed with an online text editor.

Interested users can register and the choose a manuscript image to transcribe. The interface offers a range of useful features, for example allowing the transcriber to add metadata to the transcript and magnify and focus on a section of a page. The manuscripts are divided into different categories, which helps the transcriber choose a suitable manuscript to work on. Once a transcription is complete, the user submits it to the project, where it is reviewed by the editors.


Jeremy Bentham's "Auto-Icon" at University College London.

Jeremy Bentham's "Auto-Icon" at University College London.

The project is interesting in more than one way. Bentham may be well-known and his ideas studied but a large proportion of his writings has never been published. By making the material available, the Transcribe Bentham project is creating a marvellous opportunity for researchers, students and other interested parties to get to know Jeremy Bentham and his ideas better.

I recognise, as the all-comprehensive, and only right and proper end of Government the greatest happiness of the greatest number of the members of the community
Bentham (1983 [1822-32]) p.136 [Const Code Ch.VII,§2]

The project also has a lot to offer those involved in or interested in other areas, not least digital computing and community collection of different kinds. It will be interesting to follow the progress of the project and learn from their work.

We would like to encourage all those who have an interest in Bentham or those with an interest in  history, politics, law, philosophy and economics, fields to which Bentham made significant contributions, to visit the site. Those with an enthusiasm for palaeography, transcription and manuscript studies will be interested in Bentham’s handwriting, while those involved in digital humanities, education and heritage learning will find the site intriguing. (Transcribing Bentham website)

More information:

For more information about the project and the Transcription desk, please go to the Transcribe Bentham Project website where you can also learn more about the (non-digital) Bentham collection.

The project has its own Facebook page and you can follow it on Twitter (#transctbentham). It has also been written about elsewhere, such as in  ‘Growing Knowledge‘ (British Library blog) and Times Higher Education. No doubt more will follow.

Image credit: photo taken by Michael Reeve, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.

Posted in case studies, digitisation & ugc | 1 Comment

One Response to “Transcribe Bentham”

  1. [...] engaging with their audience via Facebook and Twitter, and their ‘Transcription Bench’ (launched Sept 2010). Also alluding to the recent discussion surrounding the measures of impact for community projects, [...]