World War 1 Transcription Project

The Friends’ World War One transcription project is under way. The project is focusing on the transcription of World War One diaries, as well as other archival materials of that era. We’ve got around a dozen volunteer transcribers so far. Some are already members of Friends of the Hocken Collections, and others are joining up.

At the first transcribers’ meeting, Anna Blackman, the Hocken Collections Curator of Archives & Manuscripts, had selected a range of candidates for transcription – diaries, letters and other materials.  3 examples of documents and writers are: “Donald Baxter, conscientious objector, Waiheria Reformatory”, “Beaumont, letter on wood, Gallipoli, France” and “Roberts, Edward Fletcher”.

Anna also provided to the group an excellent guidance document about transcribing. It includes, for example, how best to decipher handwriting and ways to ensure that the transcription duplicates, as accurately as possible, the text on a page.

Transcribing can be done (within reason!) wherever there is access to a PC, laptop or tablet. Sometimes, of course, there could be an advantage in working at the Hocken itself, with experienced interpreters of century- ago handwriting available.

Our aim is to have completed and digitised transcriptions to share via the media in a year or so from now. For example, at the time of the Passchendaele Centenary in October 2017.

A couple of our transcribers, Ross Grimmett and Trish Fleming, are well under way. It’s been agreed that each transcriber would work with a partner to do checking after the first transcription draft. Ross and Trish are now checking each other’s efforts! (They are working on Minnie Jeffrey’s diary, part 1 and Dan Weir letters).
Other transcribers have volunteered to work on the Charles Mackie Begg diary, a James Gardner Jackson letter, lists of soldiers and narratives, the John Shaw diary, and the Trotter diary.

Here’s a link to an article for Dunedin’s The Star about the project –

Related projects in other places include:
Measuring the ANZACs – building on work done by Archives New Zealand
Online Cenotaph – Auckland Museum
World War One Diaries – State Library of New South Wales

If you are interested in knowing more, please contact Sara Barham, [email protected], or 021 611 776.