Two Repositories Begin Joint Crowdsourcing Project to Translate Yiddish Language Journals and Newspapers
An innovative new project is seeking Yiddish-speakers to help create an archive of journals and newspapers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Two archival repositories — the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University in the United States and the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom — are jointly digitizing more than 1,500 pages from journals and newspapers originally written for working-class Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.
They are relying on individuals’ help to translate the publications, which include The Polish “Yidel” and “Hashulamith” newspapers and “The Ladies’ Garment Worker,” journal of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union and cover the period 1910-1918. As the project continues, more items in Yiddish relating to labor and particularly the garment industry, will be added continually as pages are transcribed.
Participants in the project simply register, select a journal and type translations into a text box. Perfect translations are not required; an overall sense of the documents and the content is more important.
Much of Yiddish archival material is currently unavailable to researchers simply because it only exists in Yiddish, and people who know the language are becoming increasingly rare. A recent census study showed that its knowledge and use declined by half between 1980 and 2007. Yiddish speakers in the U.S. now number less than 160,000, with even fewer in the UK.
After pages are digitized and translated, they are available — free and completely searchable — on the project’s wiki. Recently translated passages show up right next to their scanned pages.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.