Vol­un­teer tran­scrip­tion project cel­e­brated

The Univer­sity of Portsmouth’s GB1900 project tran­scribed more than 2.5 mil­lion items

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ON THE RECORD -

A ma­jor project map­ping place names cel­e­brated its com­ple­tion and an­nounced its plans for the fu­ture at an event held in Lon­don on 9 July.

The crowd­sourc­ing project GB1900 ( gb1900.org) was co­or­di­nated by a team based at the Univer­sity of Portsmouth, and asked vol­un­teers to tran­scribe place names and other el­e­ments marked on his­toric six-inch Ord­nance Sur­vey maps of Great Bri­tain, orig­i­nally digi­tised by the Na­tional Li­brary of Scotland.

GB1900 launched in Septem­ber 2016 and closed to new tran­scrip­tions in Jan­uary this year af­ter more than 2.5 mil­lion items had been tran­scribed, cre­at­ing ar­guably the largest his­tor­i­cal gazetteer of Bri­tain ever. It also lo­cated 300,000 pumps and wells, 300,000 his­tor­i­cal foot­paths and just about ev­ery wind­mill.

The data col­lected is al­ready en­abling users of maps on the Na­tional Li­brary of Scotland’s web­site to search us­ing place names in­clud­ing farms and even streets ( maps.nls.uk/geo/find). It was an­nounced at the event that the data is now avail­able for any­one to down­load un­der a Creative Com­mons li­cence from Portsmouth’s web­site A Vi­sion of Bri­tain Through Time ( vi­sionof­bri­tain.org.uk), and it is hoped that this will en­cour­age new uses in the fu­ture.

Paula Au­cott, se­nior re­search as­so­ciate on the project, said: “We are pro­vid­ing a tool for other re­searchers, and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what comes out of it.

“You will [soon] be able to search by place name on Vi­sion of Bri­tain, and it will tell you the his­toric county, reg­is­tra­tion dis­trict and parish of the place,” she added.

GB1900 grew out of the crowd­sourc­ing project Cym­ru1900Wales, which launched in Oc­to­ber 2013 us­ing tech­nol­ogy from Zooni­verse ( cym­ru1900wales.

org). It closed in Septem­ber 2016 but the ma­te­rial was in­cor­po­rated into GB1900, es­tab­lished by part­ners in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of Portsmouth, the Na­tional Li­brary of Scotland, the Na­tional Li­brary of Wales, the Royal Com­mis­sion on the An­cient and His­tor­i­cal Mon­u­ments of Wales, the Cen­tre for Ad­vanced Welsh and Celtic Stud­ies, and Peo­ple’s Col­lec­tion Wales.

At the event, vol­un­teers who worked on GB1900 were thanked. Five in par­tic­u­lar were sin­gled out. Dave Leach, Terry and Pam Au­cott, Adrian Ca­ble and Harm Bouw­man contributed hun­dreds of hours, to­gether chalk­ing up hun­dreds of thou­sands of tran­scrip­tions.

Humphrey Southall, pro­fes­sor of his­tor­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy at the Univer­sity of Portsmouth, said: “The vol­un­teers have been amaz­ing. Some of them worked 15–20 hours a week on the project.” Leach, a keen fam­ily and lo­cal his­to­rian, told Who

Do You Think You Are? Mag­a­zine that he had ini­tially con­cen­trated on ar­eas that his fam­ily came from: “I’m from Wi­gan, and my ex­tended fam­ily spreads through­out Lan­cashire. I started with where my grand­fa­ther was brought up around Dar­wen.”

More than 1,000 peo­ple signed up to help GB1900, many of them read­ers of this mag­a­zine, which high­lighted the project in its Tran­scrip­tion Tues­day event in 2017. Among them was Deb­o­rah Gor­man, who said: “My great grand­par­ents were from ru­ral Suf­folk, and they moved down to Kent and helped build many of the naval build­ings at Chatham. My mum used to tell me about it, but it was won­der­ful be­ing able to tran­scribe that area.”

We are pro­vid­ing a tool for other re­searchers, and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what comes out of it

Left to right: vol­un­teers Adrian Ca­ble, Terry and Pam Au­cott, Harm Bouw­man and Dave Leach

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