Are there members willing to help transcribe U.S. Mint documents? New update 2-20-2017.
A primary impediment to numismatic research is the difficulty in locating and understanding original materials, especially U.S. Mint documents prior to about 1895. Before common use of the typewriter, clerks wrote most letters and reports in cursive (aka “longhand”). Everyone who wrote personal letters wrote in cursive with wildly varying degrees of legibility.
Cursive handwriting effectively locks information into a form that is not searchable by automated systems. To extract usable information from a correspondence journal, the researcher must read every page, and then transcribe anything of interest.
Handwriting has proven to be largely undecipherable by the present generation of computer-aided recognition software. Thus, the only way to extract useful information is to transcribe documents into a machine readable format such as PDF.
Presently, I have over 100,000 pages of photocopies and digitized US Mint documents that are all written in cursive. There are several people helping with transcriptions, but more would be better.
The process is simple. I send via email one or more documents in PDF format. The transcriber types the cursive text using MSWord (or something similar) into a new document, then returns the transcribed file to me. I will check the work and then add the transcription to the end of the original PDF. This allows a full text search of the document, and presents the user with both original and typed text.
There’s no cost or obligation, and you will get to read some very interesting letters and reports.
Please ask any questions within this thread. Let me know via PM if you would like to help.
Here is a very short sample of the finished product prepared by a volunteer.