Thousands of records put online during Transcription Tuesday

By Rosemary Collins, 25 January 2018 - 10:34am

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine readers volunteered to help transcribe historic records online


Members of the Western Australian Genealogical Society transcribing parish registers for FamilySearch (Credit: WAGS)

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine’s popular Transcription Tuesday event returned this week, with volunteers from around the world transcribing thousands of important historic documents.

In total, 335 volunteers signed up via our website to take part in the event on 23 January 2018, beating the total of 329 in the first event last year, while hundreds more also contributed.

Volunteers could choose between five teams, each led by a WDYTYA? staff member, as a way of helping fellow family historians by opening up records collections to online access.

Those in the Southern Hemisphere were the first to get to work.

Sue McLachlan enjoyed transcribing personnel files of soldiers from New Zealand in the First World War for Measuring the Anzacs, the project chosen by production editor Seth Burgess.

Using the #TranscriptionTuesday hashtag, she reported on Twitter: “Done a few hundred records today for #TranscriptionTuesday now time for bed and let the Northern Hemisphere do a few more.”

The most popular project was FamilySearch’s parish register indexing project, championed by editor Sarah Williams, with 221 volunteers indexing over 10,000 baptism, marriage and death records.

These included Richard Dellar, the highest individual transcriber, who indexed 460 records.

Volunteer Richard Hornbrook called the project “a great mixture of fun, fascination and hard work!” and said it might have introduced him to “a whole new pastime”.

Editorial assistant Rosemary Collins chose a new project from the National Library of Wales (NLW), involving transcribing records of the First World War tribunals in Cardiganshire, which heard appeals from men wishing to avoid military conscription.

Only a few such record sets survive, making them an important historic resource.

The newly-launched website suffered from a bug on the day which prevented users from tracking which records had already been transcribed.

However, they still successfully transcribed 727 records, telling the stories of those who couldn’t fight for religious, political or practical reasons.

Transcriber Anona Morgan made a family history discovery in the process, finding that her great grandfather had signed a petition in support of an appellant.


Volunteers at the National Library of Wales (Credit: NLW)

Gwyneth Davies, volunteers’ co-ordinator at NLW, said: “Transcription Tuesday has helped us to reach a wide range of volunteers within a short space of time - thank you so much to WDYTYA? Magazine staff for this opportunity and for their support.”

Features editor Jon Bauckham chose a more challenging project, with the Ancestry World Archives Project’s initiative to index Poor Law and workhouse records from Bedfordshire.

On Transcription Tuesday, just under 5,000 records were indexed on the website, compared to around 2,000 on a normal day.

Volunteers discovered the hard conditions faced by the poor at the time.

Kay Washbrook told the magazine: “I did come across one rather sad case, of a widower with four children aged 15, 12, 6 and 4.

"On 1 January 1 he was granted a sum of money to buy meat because he was ill with bronchitis, and only three days later the family received money to pay for his funeral.”

The final project, Europeana 1914-1918, was chosen by art editor Robbie Bennie, with 13 volunteers indexing 255 personal documents from a collection of European First World War memorabilia.

Summing up the day, Sarah Williams said: “It was wonderful to have so many people take part and enjoy the process of giving something back to family history.

"I’d just like to say a big thank you to all the participants and the project managers who helped to make it such a success.”

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