Progress on the refreshed PWD

October 4th, 2018

We have been making great progress on refreshing the Papers of the War Department website and reworking the transcription system.

Just last week we had an in-house testing session to evaluate the new transcription system. It lets transcribers rotate and zoom in on page images, a feature we expect many of you will appreciate. Transcribers will still be able to easily switch between transcribing a page and the Discussion option for communicating with the Editors.

Below is a sneak peek of the new layout for browsing documents. This is not the final design, but gives an idea of what’s coming:

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 11.46.12 AM

We’re working on additional features which should make working on the Papers of the War Department an even more rewarding experience. The site should be available, with the new look, new resources, and new transcription system, in early 2019. Stay tuned!

The update of the Papers of the War Department is made possible by an American Council of Learned Societies Digital Extension Grants

Community Transcription: April 2018

May 1st, 2018

April 2018 marked the eighty-fourth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the last month:

Twenty-eight new transcribers signed up in April, which brings the total number of transcribers to 3,168 as of April 30, 2018. The individuals who signed up in April mentioned an interest in indigenous history, William Davieswestern Virginia, and Cumberland Gap.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding furlough granted to Captain Dale, request for leave of absence to make voyage to China, certification of payment, and forwards Lafayette’s military proceedings.

Our community of transcribers have added 230 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 22,748. Overall, we have had 834,616 page views.

As a part of our work to update Scripto and migrate the PWD to Omeka S, we will be shutting down transcription beginning May 15, 2018. Please make sure to have completed any transcriptions you’re working on by then. We appreciate your transcription efforts and look forward to unveiling a more user-friendly transcription process in a few months’ time!

Transcription Freeze Begins on May 15

April 16th, 2018

The PWD and Scripto teams at RRCHNM are making great progress in our efforts to upgrade and re-design the website and user’s experience.

Jim Safely is tackling the major work involved in managing the migration as well as redeveloping the Scripto transcription tool for Omeka S that will be integrated into the new Papers of the War Department digital edition.

To inform the redesign and user experience, Alyssa Fahringer and Megan Brett surveyed current PWD transcribers and Scripto + Omeka users. Jim Safely and Kim Nguyen are incorporating that feedback into Scripto’s data model, combining technical and user experience requirements for administrative editorial actions, and for the public space for transcription.

Feedback from PWD transcribers is also informing Nguyen as she leads the team through the web design process that will result in a new look for the website come in late 2018, or early 2019.

To allow for this work to progress and for the migration to occur without any data loss, we must temporarily close the transcription portal, so that we can review and import the existing transcriptions.

We will stop accepting registrations for new transcribers, and we will remove the means for existing transcribers to log in and work on documents on May 15, 2018. If you have any partially-transcribed documents that you wish to finish, please do so by May 14.

We understand this may present an inconvenience to some of you, but this is a necessary step for us to take as we progress with these major project improvements.  The website itself, including all of the documents, and any completed and approved transcriptions, will remain available and accessible throughout this time.

We plan to re-launch the new Papers of the War Department website and digital edition in late 2018 or early 2019.

Stay tuned for more updates as the team works together on the PWD improvements through the summer and fall.

Community Transcription: March 2018

April 2nd, 2018

March 2018 marked the eighty-third month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the last month:

Twenty-four new transcribers signed up in March, which brings the total number of transcribers to 3,140 as of March 31, 2018. The individuals who signed up in March mentioned an interest in Six Nations Confederacy, Major Stewart Herbert, John Warren, Northwest Indian War, and Major William Colbert.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding Lafayette’s military proceedings; deposition by eleven inhabitants of Glynn County; cattle taken by Army at the Battle of Wite Marsh; inquiries about repair of buildings on Cattle Island; settlement for cattle taken; certification of payment; request for leave of absence to make voyage to China; and Indians under Captain Prior.

Our community of transcribers have added 27 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 22,518. Overall, we have had 827,246 page views.

As a part of our work to update Scripto and migrate the PWD to Omeka S, we will be shutting down transcription beginning May 15, 2018. Please make sure to have completed any transcriptions you’re working on by then. We appreciate your transcription efforts and look forward to unveiling a more user-friendly transcription process in a few months’ time!

Community Transcription: February 2018

March 5th, 2018

February 2018 marked the eighty-second month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the last month:

Twenty-seven new transcribers signed up in February, which brings the total number of transcribers to 3,116 as of February 28, 2018. The individuals who signed up in February mentioned an interest in Ohio, slavery in early America, Anthony Wayne, and New London, Virginia.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding status of supplies, request for instructions, pension of Willis Wilson, recommendations relative to the quasi-war with France, Anthony Wayne’s order for uniforms, copy of letter from the Secretary of War to Thomas Holt, and priorities of the President to avoid war and and to protect citizens.

Our community of transcribers have added 101 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 22,491. Overall, we have had 797,867 page views.

Community Transcription: December 2017 and January 2018

February 5th, 2018

December 2017 and January 2018 marked the eightieth and eighty-first months, respectively, since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the last two months:

Thirty-eight new transcribers signed up in December and January which brings the total number of transcribers up to 3,089 as of January 31, 2018. The individuals who signed up in the last two months mentioned an interest in forts along the Delaware River, scouts on the frontier, the settlement of Ohio, the first and second Canadian regiments, West Point, and the Chickamauga Tribe.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding clothing for John Schrider; clothing for troops in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; one pair of woolen overalls for each man; woolen overalls for the Marines; clothing for troops; files, pod augers, & ship saws, etc.; military bounty claim; delivery of shoes; and clothing for Gamble’s troops.

Our community of transcribers have added 234 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 22,390. Overall, we have had 792,858 page views.

Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

 

New Grants to Support PWD

December 18th, 2017

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) received two grants in 2017 that will ensure the long-term stability and accessibility of the Papers of the War Department (PWD).

The first comes from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as one of five digital extension grants to migrate PWD to Omeka S that will offer efficient upgrade of the infrastructure and will provide a path for long-term preservation and access, while also allowing the team to redesign the user interface. This will enable greater use and discoverability of these early federal documents. Once fully migrated to Omeka S, the project’s existing metadata, which includes the names of thousands of individuals and geographic places referenced in correspondence, will be connected across the semantic web as linked open data.

The second grant, awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities (NEH-ODH), funds an upgrade to Scripto, the transcription tool used by the PWD and many other community transcription projects. The new Scripto will be available as a module for Omeka S. Both projects will fund the creation of new documentation, lesson plans, and best practices that will increase the accessibility of sources within PWD and put the technology used to build the project within reach of cultural heritage organizations in managing their own community transcription projects.

We are extremely grateful to ACLS and NEH-ODH for these opportunities to extend and sustain access to these important documents from the early American republic. Sheila Brennan, RRCHNM’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, is leading both grants and is working together with a talented team. Jim Safley, PWD’s original web architect, leads the migration and Scripto development process; Kim Nguyen, RRCHNM’s lead web designer, is redesigning the PWD public-facing website as well as the user experience for the Scripto module; PWD’s Editor-in-Chief Christopher Hamner is working with Sheila Brennan to develop educational resources for upper-level high school and undergraduate students and teachers; Alyssa Fahringer is PWD’s Project Manager and an Assistant Editor who is coordinating the work on both grants, and is working together with Digital History Associate, Megan Brett on audience research, user testing, and outreach.

Since June, the team has made significant progress on assessing and preparing for the migration and in researching the needs of our uses. This fall, we surveyed current users of Scripto and our valued community of PWD transcribers about their experiences with the current website and its workflows. We will post a summary of the feedback we received early in the new year.

We are excited for these opportunities to continue to improve and enhance the PWD, and will be posting periodic updates on our progress here on the PWD blog.

Community Transcription: November 2017

December 4th, 2017

November 2017 marked the seventy-ninth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for last month:

Forty-one new transcribers signed up last month which brings the total number of transcribers up to 3,051 as of November 30, 2017. The individuals who signed up in November mentioned an interest in the early years of the US Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, Tellico Blockhouse, William Blountthe Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the Treaty of Holston. 

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding clothing and accounting, resolving land issues at the legislature, request for recommendation of command and supply officers, request for character witness concerning officers, preparation for the expedition to the westward, transportation and costs, discussion of raising a company of troops, and accurate information about the northwestern frontier and Mississippi River.

Our community of transcribers have added 307 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 22,156. Overall, we have had 767,564 page views.

Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Community Transcription: October 2017

November 1st, 2017

October 2017 marked the seventy-eighth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for last month:

Thirty-two new transcribers signed up last month which brings the total number of transcribers up to 3,010 as of October 31, 2017. The individuals who signed up in October mentioned an interest in the state militia units, the early US Navy, colonial Virginia, and Army uniforms.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding shipment of clothing for troops, estimate of the pay and forage of the troopsstocks sawed from dogwood, delay of Colonel Sargent’s stores, money forwarded, delivery, delivery of silver, Major Craig sends status report to Secretary of War, new certificate for payment, return of the legion of the United States, account information, instructions for mustering and paying troops, accountant office policy, request for information on the account of Captain Olie, clothing, stores, disbursements, pay problems, requests order of spirits for western military, provisions and transportation, murder of peaceful Indians, court martial at West Point, regarding Massachusetts troops to be raised, and regarding camp kettles and other supplies.

Our community of transcribers have added 788 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 21,849. Overall, we have had 757,143 page views.

Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Community Transcription: September 2017

October 2nd, 2017

September 2017 marked the seventy-seventh month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for last month:

Twenty-one new transcribers signed up last month which brings the total number of transcribers up to 2,978 as of September 30, 2017. The individuals who signed up in September mentioned an interest in the Cherokee nation, the Whiskey Rebellion, and Robert Elliot.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding returns for September & October 1798, funding and currency, estimate of pay & forage due the detachments, delivery of dispatches, estimate of cost to transport sundry stores from Philadelphia, request for arms, accounts and receipts enclosed, packets and letters addressed to Major Craig, general bookkeeping, and travel safety.

Our community of transcribers have added 105 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 21,061. Overall, we have had 740,905 page views.

Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.