A collection of pocket-sized diaries from the 1860s has created an Internet sensation for the University of Iowa library.
The diaries are part of the library’s Civil War collection employees have been working on for more than two years, digitizing pages in time for the war’s 150th anniversary in April.
“The idea is to make it as accessible as possible and not have us try to decide what people should see but make the whole body of work available to people,” said Greg Prickman, assistant head of Special Collections and University Archives who helped oversee the project.
Now library employees are taking the project a step further. They developed a website that allows members of the public to not only view the diaries but write transcriptions of the pages.
The process, known as crowd sourcing, has been around for a while, but usually requires expensive, technical software, Prickman said.
There have been 48,000 visits to the Civil War diaries pages in the last week alone, and the library has received more than 3,800 completed transcripts since June 8.
Once those transcripts are received, librarians edit them to ensure they’re accurate and posted online with the images, and perhaps most
importantly, Prickman said, the transcripts make the diaries searchable.
Direct to Civil War Diary Transcription Page
Direct to Entire Civil War Digital Collection
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