Volunteers needed to transcribe an Edwardian book of railway accidents in a day
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, the Modern Records Centre and the National Railway Museum (NRM) are looking for volunteers to help transcribe a book of railway worker accidents spanning 1901–1907 in just 24 hours. The project is one of three that have been chosen as part of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine’s annual Transcription Tuesday event, which this year takes place on 5 February 2019.
Transcription Tuesday was launched in 2017 by Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, to encourage family and local historians to get involved in transcription projects. “The internet has transformed family history,” said editor Sarah Williams, “but the documents that are going online need to be transcribed or indexed to make them searchable, and for many projects the only way that is going to happen is with the help of volunteers.”
One of the projects chosen for Transcription Tuesday this year is the Railway Work, Life and Death project (railwayaccidents.port.ac.uk), and its organisers have set a challenge to the Transcription Tuesday volunteers – to transcribe an entire 119-page volume of railway worker accidents in a day. Each page has, on average, 18 accidents reported, meaning that by the end of the day about 2,150 records could be available for future family historians to discover details of their railway worker ancestors.
“Accidents to railway workers were sadly common at the start of the 20th century, with around 15,000 deaths and injuries each year,” said Dr Mike Esbester of the University of Portsmouth, co-leader of the project. “This volume was created by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, the biggest railway trade union [known today as the RMT], to record accidents and legal cases involving its members. Until Transcription Tuesday it was only available in hard copy, at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick, which meant it was rarely consulted. Transcribing it will hugely increase its use.”
Other records being indexed on Transcription Tuesday are Warwickshire witness statements from the county’s quarter sessions with Warwickshire Bytes and a range of parish registers in association with FamilySearch. “This year we want to make Transcription Tuesday the biggest yet,” said Sarah Williams. “We hope to see hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers from across the world join together and give something back to family history.”
To find out more about the day, the projects and how to get involved visit: www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/transcriptiontuesday
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