By Nancy Heywood, Senior Archivist for Digital Initiatives
Can you read cursive? Do you want to time travel to Massachusetts in 1855?
Are you interested in learning more about the Boston area and learning about the lives of past residents?
Maybe you’re curious about the day-to-day activities of an urban missionary in a busy 19th-century city environment?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you might be just the person we’re looking for. We need volunteers to help the MHS test a pilot transcription project running now through 30 June 2022 featuring the journals of Luman Boyden, a Methodist missionary who worked in East Boston in the 1850s.
The collection is significant because it includes names of and details about impoverished, marginalized, and immigrant populations. Boyden’s perspective is the lens into people’s lives and some of his comments are judgmental and harsh. He is zealous, very sure of his own perspective, but does seem to want to help (in the way he thinks is appropriate). You will have the chance to decide for yourself how empathetic he is as he ministers to people in the East Boston neighborhood.
Many organizations offer this type of transcription crowdsourcing activity. We hope you find it interesting to look closely at some of our manuscript collections and contribute to a long-term goal of improving discoverability–eventually the transcribed manuscript pages will be searchable and more accessible.
MHS’s transcription tool is integrated into the web presentations of selected digitized collections. It’s easy to get started. Visit www.masshist.org/mymhs, create an account, and try your hand at transcribing a document from our collection. The project page for the “Luman Boyden Missionary Journals” includes a dropdown menu that helps you find a page to work on. [See screenshot below.]
The workspace for volunteer transcribers includes a text box and a zoomable image of the manuscript page. [See screenshot below.]
We would appreciate your help and your feedback!
Digital Volunteers page: www.masshist.org/mymhs
Projects page: www.masshist.org/mymhs/index.php/projecthub/projects
Read a blog post by Susan Martin, Senior Processing Archivist, about the Luman Boyden journals.