T-Pen and tranScriptorium: Digital Tools for Manuscript Transcription

Transcription for Paleographical and Editorial Notation, or “T-Pen,” developed at the Center for Digital Theology of Saint Louis University, is a tool for the transcription and annotation of manuscripts, through their digital images, to which they are linked on a line-by-line basis; it is currently in its beta version, and will continue to add features.  By signing up, one can make transcriptions from the numerous manuscripts and notebooks made available by libraries, some of which contain texts from Late Antiquity (i.e., the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is associated with T-Pen); transcriptions can be exported as a .pdf or XML, but not, apparently, to editorial software (such as Classical Text Editor).  Users can create their own projects, but are limited in this by the selection of available manuscripts; it is unclear how small projects can upload their own images, either under restricted or open access.  But in any case, T-Pen has potential as a platform for facilitating crowd-sourcing, or simply hosting large editorial projects.

Indeed, efforts are currently underway to produce computer-generated transcriptions from digital images, as a first step in the transcription process: specifically, tranScriptorium, a major European funded project running from 2013 to 2015, “aims to develop innovative, efficient and cost-effective solutions for the indexing, search and full transcription of historical handwritten document images, using modern, holistic Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology.”

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