First for Transcription Tuesday as entire book transcribed in one day

By Rosemary Collins, 7 February 2019 - 12:28pm

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine’s annual volunteer event broke new ground as our readers transcribed an entire book of railway accident records

Transcription Tuesday Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine
Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine staff do our bit for Transcription Tuesday

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine’s third annual Transcription Tuesday event was a great success, marking the first time our volunteers have transcribed a whole book in a single day.

For Transcription Tuesday 2019, we teamed up with the Railway Work, Life and Death project to transcribe a 119-page book of railway worker accident records, created by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and spanning 1901-1905.

On 5 February, WDYTYA? Magazine readers and other volunteers from around the world gave up their time to take part, using Google Spreadsheets to transcribe the records from their home computers.

In total, they transcribed the entire book and a number of supplementary documents, covering around 3,800 cases of worker injuries and deaths, an increase of over 80% on the records currently available and creating a valuable resource for those researching railway worker ancestors.

Project leader Dr Mike Esbester of the University of Portsmouth said: “This is the first time we've been able to work with large numbers of people like this; we were amazed at the interest and generosity of all those who got involved, so a massive thank you to everyone!”

He added that many volunteers said they wanted to carry on supporting the project, and urged anyone who was interested to sign up on their website.

Railway Work Life and Death
A page from the railway worker accidents book that Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine readers transcribed

Meanwhile, other volunteers worked on transcriptions projects with Warwickshire County Record Office (WCRO) and FamilySearch, the world’s largest free family history website.

Volunteers used WCRO’S Warwickshire Bytes crowdsourcing project to transcribe quarter session deposition records. The depositions, an early form of witness statement in criminal trials, date from 1829 to 1900, making them an excellent source for family, local and social history.

In total 61 depositions were transcribed, adding almost 100 names to the Warwickshire Bytes database.

Project archivist Sharon Forman called Transcription Tuesday “exhausting and exhilarating”, adding: “Many of our volunteers have come back to us to say how much they enjoyed the work and we are delighted with the results they produced for us."

Finally, we continued our partnership with FamilySearch, with volunteers transcribing Cumbria, Essex and Shropshire parish registers and Herefordshire bishop’s transcripts. The records date from 1754 to 1990 and record baptisms, marriages and burials – the backbone of family history research.

Brian McKechnie, FamilySearch's family history centre logistics specialist, said: "More than 10,000 parish records were indexed and added to our searchable collections. These will be a boon to the global family history research community. Our sincere thanks also go to WDYTYA? Magazine for organising such a great worldwide event. "

Many of our readers got in touch to say how rewarding they’d found Transcription Tuesday. Rosemary Atkins, who transcribed four Warwickshire depositions, said she’d had an “interesting and fun time”, adding: “I'm glad I wasn't a thief in the 1830s. Most punishments seem to have been hard labour, with one additional private whipping.”

WDYTYA? Magazine editor Sarah Williams thanked all the volunteers who took part. “Once again, their commitment and dedication meant that thousands more records have become available to family historians,” she said.

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