http://www.digitalmaine.net/projects/ today, inviting the public to lend a hand in making Maine's historical documents more accessible.
The transcription project works in conjunction with DigitalMaine at http://digitalmaine.com/ which hosts digitized items from all over the state. The website now gives users the option to type the contents of these historic documents, which will make them text-searchable, allowing researchers to easily find documents that reference a particular subject of interest. Additionally, having a typed version of these documents will make them accessible to those who cannot read cursive and to those with visual impairment, via computer programs that can read typed text aloud.
"It's a different and new way for people to engage with the collections," said Archivist II Heather Moran. "Transcription is a time-consuming process, but one that comes with great benefits."
The Digital Maine Transcription Project is part of a greater goal of promoting access to the historic records of the state, and participation is greatly encouraged. Anyone who enjoys getting lost in Maine's historical documents will find a treasure trove of information in the Digital Maine documents, and those who are willing to type while they read will be making a lasting impact in sharing Maine history with others.
"Spreading the work out to the public means that several people can each transcribe only a handful of pages and they will complete the work it would have taken our staffs maybe years to finish," said Kate Herbert, project manager and employee of both MSA and MSL.
Staff members began planning for the project this past summer after learning about the enthusiastic public response to similar initiatives at the National Archives and the Smithsonian.
Currently available for transcription on the Digital Maine site are: Civil War hospital records, slavery and African-American history documents, militia records from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812; correspondence from the library's Dahlov Ipcar collection (American painter, illustrator, and author), and town records. Archives and Library staff will update the site with new material as transcriptions are completed.
Participants simply create their own login to begin typing documents on the site, and can complete entire documents or parts of documents, depending on how much time they want to commit.