Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Collaborative Transcription Platform Will Benefit from Innovative Grant Project

Fri, February 7, 2020
Collaborative Transcription Platform Will Benefit from Innovative Grant Project

The University of Texas Libraries has received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of more than $300,000 to participate in the creation of a Wikipedia-like platform for collaborative transcription, translation, and indexing of archival texts in non-English languages. Albert A. Palacios, Digital Scholarship Coordinator at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, will co-direct the project with Allyssa Guzman, UT Libraries Digital Scholarship Librarian.

The following is excerpted from the news story published by the University of Texas Libraries: "The project —Enabling and Reusing Multilingual Citizen Contributions in the Archival Record—grew out of a need to provide more accessible digital scholarship platforms for non-English-literate archival partners in Latin America. The initial phase of this project will provide an option for non-English-literate communities to meaningfully engage and contribute to the digital humanities through an open-source digital scholarship platform.

"The platform, FromThePage, was originally developed by software engineers Ben and Sara Brumfield (Brumfield Labs) for transcribing family diaries. The current functionality of FromThePage is as a tool for the collaborative transcription of primary source materials, particularly those that are handwritten or not readable by optical character recognition (OCR) technologies.

"The software is currently only accessible to those who can read English, so the project will reconfigure the platform’s infrastructure to enable a multilingual interface and the subsequent translation of the tool and its user guides into Spanish and Portuguese. The joint effort between the University of Texas Libraries, LLILAS Benson, and Brumfield Labs will be managed by project co-directors Guzman and Palacios.

“'This grant has an impact beyond Latin American collections, since the translation infrastructure will be usable for any language,' says FromThePage developer Ben Brumfield. 'Scholars who use FromThePage have requested this functionality for years, since it is another step connecting them with communities from central Africa to Japan. UT Libraries is in a perfect position to organize the user community, since they have supported the project for years,' says Brumfield.

“'With the help of this funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Texas Libraries will be able to expand its leadership role in archival and preservation innovation,” says Vice Provost and Libraries’ Director Lorraine Haricombe. “This novel partnership will allow us to make a global impact on open access and scholarship in a way that greatly enhances archives in non-English languages.'

"Faculty and staff have most recently used the Libraries’ installation of FromThePage to undertake grant-funded international research projects. Last year, the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) received an NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant to support the transcription of texts in Mixtec (a pre-Columbian language originating in south-central Mexico). And the LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Office partnered with Brumfield Labs and researchers in Argentina and Pennsylvania to extract Latin American historical place names from an 18th-century gazetteer to address the Eurocentrism in Pelagios Commons and World Historical Gazetteer historical geographic resources.

"Once the project platform updates are completed, Brumfield Labs will deploy them to the instance of FromThePage hosted at www.fromthepage.com, and send out a software update through Github for those institutions that host and manage instances of the tool on their own servers."

Read the full article here.


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  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

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