Tuesday 10 February 2015

Letters of 1916 project receives funding for outreach

Some 1700 letters have already been contributed
Great news from the Letters of 1916 project: the team has been awarded a Discover Grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

The SFI's €1.6 million total funding will be shared by 39 initiatives designed to encourage people of all ages to develop an active and informed interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and maths in Ireland. The financial support will allow the Letters of 1916 project to extend its outreach, with four Community Engagement Events planned for Enniscorthy, Wexford; Cork; Galway and Belfast this year.

The Letters of 1916 project is the first public humanities crowd-sourced project in Ireland and is creating a digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 Nov 1915 – 31 Oct 1916).

Some of the letters submitted were held at institutions (in Ireland and abroad), while others have been submitted by private individuals whose ancestors lived through the period. These letters comment on the Easter Rising, literature and art, World War One, politics, business and ordinary daily life. The collection will add a new perspective to the events of the period, a confidential and intimate glimpse into early 20th-Century life in Ireland, as well as how Irish politics was viewed internationally.

As of the end of January, some 1598 letters had been transcribed and a further 100-odd were uploaded and awaiting transcription by the project's volunteers. If you have a letter to contribute or would like to discover some of the previously untold stories hidden in the letters of 1916 by becoming a volunteer transcriber, see the Contribute page.

The online archive is scheduled to launch this November but, in the meantime, the project's website presents a collection of 'Featured Letters' which have been contextualised by the team with biographical and historical background and a certain amount of 'reading between the lines'.

Those attending the newly-funded Letters of 1916 community engagement events will learn about the technology and the practices used to create and manage a digital archive, as well as how to ‘read’ advanced discovery methods (including network analysis, topic modeling, and geospatial mapping).

They will be offered the opportunity to take a hands-on part in the processing of historical documents for inclusion in a digital archive and experience the full range of activities from digital imaging to processing to uploading letters using the Omeka content management system. They will also be tutored on how to create machine-readable transcriptions of letters using XML/TEI tags. By taking part, attendees will gain a new insight into, and appreciation for, the technologies behind Web 2.0.