Transcribing Victorian handwriting

My introduction to the Digital Dinah Craik project was in the Winter 2015 Digitizing Victorian Women Writers class. Below are my early thoughts on the challenges — and fun — in transcribing and encoding the letters of Dinah Craik to her daughter Dorothy:

Our ENG607 class completed and submitted the TEI markups of our Dinah Craik letters a few days ago. It’s been a fascinating project. Some surprises and lessons learned in the process:

  • Most of us in the class found transcribing the letters to be much more challenging and time intensive than we have first thought it would be.
  • It was an enormous help to work with partners (and other classmates) to decipher the sometimes obscure, often challenging handwriting, words and names. This is definitely an instance where collaboration felt not just helpful, but necessary.
  • Working collaboratively was not only rewarding—it meant that we were all able to do a better job on our projects by doing better, more complete transcriptions—but also surprisingly fun.

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