EMMO database update

By Victoria Van Hyning (Talk handle @vvh) & Sarah Powell (Talk handle @S_Powell)

In late October we sent an email to all registered volunteers about our progress on Shakespeare’s World, which included some information about how transcriptions get moved from the project interface into their longterm home, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s new Early Modern Manuscripts Online database (EMMO). This post is a recap for all volunteers who joined after that newsletter went out, and for those who aren’t registered Zooniverse users.

Over 5,000 pages have been fully transcribed by volunteers (thank you!) and we’ll be uploading more data to Shakespeare’s World soon. But the process of getting the crowdsourced transcriptions into EMMO is complex because of additional information that gets added to these transcriptions.

To date there are 15 letters (~50 pages) ready to browse, to which Shakespeare’s World transcribers have contributed, including: L.a. 625, X.c.50, L.a. 428, L.a. 400, L.a. 347, L.a. 914, L.a. 902, L.a. 2, L.a. 179, L.a. 115, X.c.15, L.a. 195, L.a. 594, and L.a. 561 (once you’re on EMMO you can alter the last few characters of the url to navigate to the appropriate page, for example deleting La625 and replacing it with La195). A further 23 items are under review and soon to be published, and many more are to follow.

EMMO provides three different kinds of transcription: ‘diplomatic’, transcribing exactly what’s there and representing the physical features of the text as much as possible; ‘semidiplomatic’, expanding special characters and rendering implied letters visible using italics, etc.; and ‘regularized’, making a more readable version by altering spelling and punctuation, lowering superscripts etc. For example, the same line in L.a. 2: ‘Letter from Ralph Adderley to Sir Nicholas Bagnall, Ireland, 1567 April 10’ is rendered as follows:

Diplomatic: ‘hitt wold be a good chastesmt vnto hym  ^neu{er}thelesse his gou{er}nemt I do Referre’

Semi-Diplomatic: ‘hitt wold be a good chastesment vnto hym  ^neuerthelesse his gouernement I do Referre’

Regularized: ‘it would be a good chastisement unto him  nevertheless his government I do Refer’

When we transcribe on Shakespeare’s World we want to capture as much information as we can see on a page, for example transcribing spelling and punctuation exactly as it appears, without modernization, and using the ‘insertion’ and ‘deletion’ buttons to capture text inserted over the line or that has been deleted, respectively. We use the keyboard buttons to capture common brevigraphs such as ye, which will appear as ‘ye‘ in the diplomatic version, but be expanded as ‘the’ in the regularized version of the text. This process of altering the base text created by volunteers means that Folger staff who work on EMMO, including Sarah (@S_Powell over on Talk), necessarily check the base transcription against the original manuscript image.

In addition to the three kinds of transcription, the EMMO team also creates an xml markup document for each manuscript, which essentially reveals the logic underpinning these transcriptions, and contains extensive metadata about each object. The site aims to offer a long-term home for the Folger manuscripts that we transcribe on Shakespeare’s World, and a comprehensive, fully searchable series of transcriptions that will make them discoverable online. It’s a long process, but we hope to gain speed in the coming year, and start to transfer more and more transcriptions onto EMMO. While crowdsourcing certainly speeds up the rate at which the base transcriptions are produced, there is still a lot of work to be done to publish the final versions. Once again, a big thank you to everyone who makes Shakespeare’s World and EMMO a reality.

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