Local workshops encourage people to join historic archiving project

Local volunteers are being sought to help transcribe historic archives in the largest crowdsourcing project of its kind in Scotland.

The project - Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces - is unique in the archive world in Scotland and one of the first of its kind in the UK.

Volunteers are being asked to help transcribe the information on more than 150,000 pages of newly digitised archives dating from 1645 to 1880, including the Ordnance Survey Name Books for the Western Isles, helping to read the old handwriting and identifying local places.

Workshops will be held next week in Stornoway Library on Monday 4 November between 10 and 11.30am and 2pm until 3.30pm and at Liniclate Community Library from 10-11.30am on Wednesday, November 6th.

The workshops, led by RCAHMS Outreach Worker Andrew Nicoll, are a chance for volunteers to come along and learn more about the website and the transcription work. Those wishing to take part can register, receive some training and then get involved.

Workshop places can be booked by emailing archives@cne-siar.gov.uk or phoning 01851 822750.

There are more than one million records, written in Scots, English and Gaelic that cover land taxation; taxes on clocks and watches, windows and farm horses and Ordnance Survey “name books” which formed the first official record of Scottish places and place names.

The information uncovered by the volunteer history sleuths will help to increase knowledge and understanding about Scotland’s history.

Their transcriptions will be added to a treasure trove of historical information on the Scotland’s Places website, www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk, which brings together records from three of Scotland’s national archives: the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the National Library of Scotland (NLS).

Local and family historians, historical geographers, history societies and researchers can use the resources for their research and can also be part of creating further content.

By getting involved in the transcription project, they’ll have access to more than one million records of people and places. While some content on the ScotlandsPlaces website is only accessible via paid subscription, anyone who registers for the transcribing project will be given full free access to all resources.

The team behind the project hopes to unlock the secrets of the archives and make further discoveries about well-known individuals and places in Scottish history.

Speaking on behalf of the project partners, Andrew Nicoll, RCAHMS Outreach Officer said: “Through this huge crowd-sourcing archive project, we hope that many thousands of volunteers will make new discoveries about people and places in Scotland’s history over the past 350 years.

“The website boasts a treasure trove of historical archives, which provide a fascinating insight into the history of buildings and communities across Scotland.

“But we need volunteer transcribers to help with the detective work, so that we can understand more and piece the jigsaw together. These records touch the lives of everyone from the famous figures of Scotland’s past, to the ordinary man and woman in the street. The potential of what we may find is incredibly exciting.”

David, Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar (Hebridean Archives) said: This is a really exciting and innovative project that I’m sure will be of interest to the archaeologists, family historians, geographers and local history societies of the Western Isles.

“Not only does this project open up a new resource that will be of use to them in their own research with high quality digital images and data, but it is a chance for specialist local knowledge to be put on record and shared with a wider audience.”

For more information about Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces or to find out how to get involved, email enquiries@scotlandsplaces.gov.uk