How we get things done: the transcription workflow

Once items are added to DataScribe and the datasets are ready for transcription, the transcription workflow begins. The project owner can assign users one of two roles: reviewer or transcriber. Reviewers can edit all records and items, regardless of the item’s status. For Bills of Mortality, Reviewers include the staff members on the project and our Digital History Research Assistants. Transcribers can only edit records and items which are locked to them. The Bills of Mortality transcription team is made up of undergraduate and graduate students. The Bills of Mortality transcription process starts with a Reviewer assigning items to the transcribers. Each item in DataScribe begins as an unlocked and new item in a dataset. When the Reviewer opens the dataset, they use filters to find these unlocked items and then assign them to individual members of the transcription team. The batch action dropdown menu […]

7 Problems to Expect when You’re Transcribing Historical Data and How to Avoid Them

So you want to start transcribing data from historical documents? The task seems easy! However, there are quite a few issues that can pop up which can create problems for other parts of the project. Below are some of the expected errors our transcribers on Death By Numbers frequently run into and some tips on how to handle them.  The job may sound intimidating with all the potential pitfalls, but we have suggested solutions from all the tips and tricks our team has picked up over the past few months. Problem Number 1: Forgetting about the Data Solution: Be Familiar with Your Data Before getting too far ahead of yourself, familiarize yourself with your transcription project.  Our project already has several blog posts on the London Bills of Mortality to assist new transcribers like the Bills 101.  If you don’t know what you’re transcribing, you […]

The London Bills of Mortality

by Dan Howlett and Jessica Otis Plague epidemics were a recurring threat in late medieval and early modern Europe. While plague could and did strike anywhere, the most well-documented epidemics were often in cities. Responses varied across time and space, as city leaders and other political authorities attempted to avoid contagion, contain the sick, and understand the scope of the threat plague currently posed to their lives and their livelihoods. These responses included the creation of lists: lists of people sick with plague, lists of cities infected with plague, and–starting in the sixteenth century–lists of the number of people who had died of plague. In England, the first plague policies were enacted in 1517-1518, after an outbreak of sweating sickness and plague that affected the royal court including the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey. These policies included attempting to quantify the severity of various plague outbreaks […]