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Bored during COVID-19? Nova Scotia Archives seeks transcription help

'You feel like you're contributing to the greater good,' archivist says

The Public Archives on Nova Scotia building at 6061 University Avenue in Halifax on Monday, April 20, 2020.

The Nova Scotia Archives is looking for people to volunteer and help transcribe handwritten, historical documents to add to its online database.

Paul Maxner, senior archivist for online resources, said it's a great activity for people who are stuck at home now and are looking for something meaningful to do.

"I think it's something that's very stimulating. You get to read these documents that are part of our Nova Scotia history and then you feel like you're contributing to the greater good," Maxner said.

Many of the documents are things like government documents, petitions, community plans and letters.

Maxner said the archives tend to keep the online collections very small and focused so people can get a feel for particular handwriting.

Collectively, he said people already in the program are transcribing thousands of words a day.

'A substantial addition'

As of Saturday, he said more than 101,000 words have been transcribed so far.

"It's a substantial addition," he said.

Recently added materials include documents on the experiences of black Nova Scotians. Last Summer, Maxner said there were documents about the experiences of Acadians in Nova Scotia.

After a transcription is finished, it is reviewed and then uploaded to the main website.

Having these handwritten documents transcribed makes them much easier for people to search, Maxner said.

Participating in N.S. history

There has not been an uptick in people looking to transcribe documents since the province declared a state of emergency, but Maxner said he's been pleased with the work people have contributed so far.

"We really appreciate people are taking the opportunity to go through these documents. It gives us a lot more content to go back into the website and enhance the searchability of these documents," he said.

"And it really is, we call it empowering our communities to participate in their own history. This is our history in Nova Scotia and it's just bringing that forward in a very meaningful way for people."

Information on how to get involved with transcription work can be found on the Nova Scotia Archives website.



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