Transcription and Coding with TEI
Posted on August 4, 2009
Junior Colloquium (HIST 302)- Professor Kathryn Tomasek
Laban Morey Wheaton kept a store in Norton between 1828 and 1859, and he used the daybook to record his transactions with local residents, including agricultural pursuits, land rentals, tax collections, legal services, and the operation of a general store.
Inhabitants of Norton came to Wheaton’s store to buy food, sewing supplies, building materials, and farm goods. The store and Wheaton’s other business interests generated the wealth from which the seminary and college were built.
Transcription and coding with the TEI have the potential to transform our teaching and our scholarship across disciplines. For teaching, collaborative contributions to the digital archive offer students opportunities to work with original primary source documents and thus to begin to understand mediations that are intrinsic to the archival, research, and editorial processes.
As students transcribe, proofread, and code documents for analysis, they learn about the nature of historical sources and what sources can and cannot tell us as historians, and such lessons evoke theoretical questions about the nature and purposes of archives. Such projects give students opportunities to “do history,” as recommended in teaching standards supported by the American Historical Association.
Such teaching projects also give faculty members opportunities to work with previously unexamined or underutilized historical documents. As we use digital technologies to teach our students and to publish original documents from the founding era of the educational institution that became Wheaton College, we contribute to scholarship in U.S. History by vastly increasing access to documents that have previously been available only to those who could be in the same physical space with either the original document or its edited version in book form.
As we create this digital archive, we also shape its purposes, developing in the process the archive we need for the twenty-first century. Not least, this new archive offers global access where digital technologies are available, increasing opportunities for transnational research and collaborations.