December 20, 2014

National Archives (NARA) and NOAA Launch Crowdsourcing Project To Transcribe Historic Naval Ship Weather Logs

share save 171 16 National Archives (NARA) and NOAA Launch Crowdsourcing Project To Transcribe Historic Naval Ship Weather Logs

Direct to Project Web Site: OldWeather.org

OldWeather.org is also home to a similar crowdsourced ship log transcription project from the UK’s Royal Navy. It began two years ago.

From Today’s Announcement:

Before there were satellites, weather data transmitters, or computer databases, there were the ship’s logs of Arctic sea voyages, where sailors dutifully recording weather observations. Now, a new crowdsourcing effort could soon make of the weather data from these ship logs, some more than 150 years old, available to climate scientists worldwide.

NOAA, National Archives and Records Administration, Zooniverse — a citizen science web portal — and other partners are seeking volunteers to transcribe a newly digitized set of ship logs dating to 1850. The ship logs, preserved by NARA, are from U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Revenue Cutter voyages in the Arctic between 1850 and the World War II era.

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Organizers hope to enlist thousands of volunteers to transcribe scanned copies of logbook pages via the Old Weather project with an eye to Information recorded in these logbooks will also appeal to a wide array of scientists from other fields – and professionals from other fields, including historians, genealogists, as well as current members and veterans of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.

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The Old Weather collaboration will provide free online access to primary documents, new data resources, and analysis tools. Old Weather is one of a suite of projects produced, maintained and developed by the Citizen Science Alliance and accessible online through Zooniverse. Citizen Science Alliance member institutions work with academic and other partners around the world to produce projects that use the efforts and ability of volunteers to help scientists and researchers deal with the flood of data that confronts them, explained Philip Brohan, UK Met Office climate scientist and leader of the Old Weather project.

The National Archives will host digital images from all the logbooks in this collaboration on its website. This three-way collaboration not only makes the logbooks available to Old Weather citizen scientists and NOAA researchers, but also to anyone with Internet access who wishes to explore the diplomatic, scientific, technological and military aspects of the voyages, as well as accounts of dramatic rescues and tragic losses. “The logbooks not only capture operations of U.S. government ships,” said [Archivist of the U.S. David] Ferriero, “They are an important cornerstone to researching U.S. and global history of any type.”

The USS Jeannette’s logs are part of the Old Weather-Arctic project.The USS Jeannette’s logs are part of the Old Weather-Arctic project. The ship was entrapped in Arctic sea ice for many months. Only a few sailors and the logbook survived this doomed 1879 Arctic expedition.

The Old Weather project began in 2010. Since then, 16,400 volunteers have transcribed 1.6 million weather observations from British Royal Navy logbooks – work that would have taken one person many years to complete. Now, Old Weather is taking on the National Archives’ extensive collection of logbooks, with an initial focus on ships that operated in the Arctic. Old Weather-Arctic will start off with roughly 100,000 logbook pages that include an estimated one million new-to-science observations.

Direct to Project Web Site: OldWeather.org

share save 171 16 National Archives (NARA) and NOAA Launch Crowdsourcing Project To Transcribe Historic Naval Ship Weather Logs
Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.