Transforming scholarship in the archives through handwritten text recognition

Guenter Muehlberger (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Louise Seaward (Bentham Project, Faculty of Laws, University College London, London, UK)
Melissa Terras (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Sofia Ares Oliveira (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Vicente Bosch (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Maximilian Bryan (Universitat Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)
Sebastian Colutto (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Hervé Déjean (Naver Labs Europe, Meylan, France)
Markus Diem (Visual Computing & Human-Centered Technology, Wien, Austria)
Stefan Fiel (Visual Computing & Human-Centered Technology, Wien, Austria)
Basilis Gatos (National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”, Agia Paraskevi, Greece)
Albert Greinoecker (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Tobias Grüning (Universitat Rostock, Rostock, Germany)
Guenter Hackl (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Vili Haukkovaara (National Archives of Finland, Helsinki, Finland)
Gerhard Heyer (Universitat Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)
Lauri Hirvonen (National Archives of Finland, Helsinki, Finland)
Tobias Hodel (State Archives of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Matti Jokinen (National Archives of Finland, Helsinki, Finland)
Philip Kahle (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Mario Kallio (National Archives of Finland, Helsinki, Finland)
Frederic Kaplan (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Florian Kleber (Visual Computing & Human-Centered Technology, Wien, Austria)
Roger Labahn (Universitat Rostock, Rostock, Germany)
Eva Maria Lang (Passau Diocesan Archives, Passau, Germany)
Sören Laube (Universitat Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)
Gundram Leifert (Universitat Rostock, Rostock, Germany)
Georgios Louloudis (National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”, Agia Paraskevi, Greece)
Rory McNicholl (University of London, UK)
Jean-Luc Meunier (Naver Labs Europe, Meylan, France)
Johannes Michael (Universitat Rostock, Rostock, Germany)
Elena Mühlbauer (Passau Diocesan Archives, Passau, Germany)
Nathanael Philipp (Universitat Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)
Ioannis Pratikakis (Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, Greece)
Joan Puigcerver Pérez (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Hannelore Putz (Passau Diocesan Archives, Passau, Germany)
George Retsinas (National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”, Agia Paraskevi, Greece)
Verónica Romero (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Robert Sablatnig (Visual Computing & Human-Centered Technology, Wien, Austria)
Joan Andreu Sánchez (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Philip Schofield (Bentham Project, Faculty of Laws, University College London, London, UK)
Giorgos Sfikas (National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”, Agia Paraskevi, Greece)
Christian Sieber (State Archives of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Nikolaos Stamatopoulos (National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”, Agia Paraskevi, Greece)
Tobias Strauß (Universitat Rostock, Rostock, Germany)
Tamara Terbul (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Alejandro Héctor Toselli (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Berthold Ulreich (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Mauricio Villegas (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Enrique Vidal (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Johanna Walcher (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Max Weidemann (Universitat Rostock, Rostock, Germany)
Herbert Wurster (Passau Diocesan Archives, Passau, Germany)
Konstantinos Zagoris (Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, Greece)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 24 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

An overview of the current use of handwritten text recognition (HTR) on archival manuscript material, as provided by the EU H2020 funded Transkribus platform. It explains HTR, demonstrates Transkribus, gives examples of use cases, highlights the affect HTR may have on scholarship, and evidences this turning point of the advanced use of digitised heritage content. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper adopts a case study approach, using the development and delivery of the one openly available HTR platform for manuscript material.

Findings

Transkribus has demonstrated that HTR is now a useable technology that can be employed in conjunction with mass digitisation to generate accurate transcripts of archival material. Use cases are demonstrated, and a cooperative model is suggested as a way to ensure sustainability and scaling of the platform. However, funding and resourcing issues are identified.

Research limitations/implications

The paper presents results from projects: further user studies could be undertaken involving interviews, surveys, etc.

Practical implications

Only HTR provided via Transkribus is covered: however, this is the only publicly available platform for HTR on individual collections of historical documents at time of writing and it represents the current state-of-the-art in this field.

Social implications

The increased access to information contained within historical texts has the potential to be transformational for both institutions and individuals.

Originality/value

This is the first published overview of how HTR is used by a wide archival studies community, reporting and showcasing current application of handwriting technology in the cultural heritage sector.

Keywords

Citation

Muehlberger, G., Seaward, L., Terras, M., Ares Oliveira, S., Bosch, V., Bryan, M., Colutto, S., Déjean, H., Diem, M., Fiel, S., Gatos, B., Greinoecker, A., Grüning, T., Hackl, G., Haukkovaara, V., Heyer, G., Hirvonen, L., Hodel, T., Jokinen, M., Kahle, P., Kallio, M., Kaplan, F., Kleber, F., Labahn, R., Lang, E., Laube, S., Leifert, G., Louloudis, G., McNicholl, R., Meunier, J., Michael, J., Mühlbauer, E., Philipp, N., Pratikakis, I., Puigcerver Pérez, J., Putz, H., Retsinas, G., Romero, V., Sablatnig, R., Sánchez, J., Schofield, P., Sfikas, G., Sieber, C., Stamatopoulos, N., Strauß, T., Terbul, T., Toselli, A., Ulreich, B., Villegas, M., Vidal, E., Walcher, J., Weidemann, M., Wurster, H. and Zagoris, K. (2019), "Transforming scholarship in the archives through handwritten text recognition", Journal of Documentation, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-07-2018-0114

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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