We are delighted to announce that the Zooniverse teams at the Adler Planetarium and the University of Minnesota have been awarded a Digital Extension Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies.

Optimizing Crowdsourced Transcription using Handwritten Text Recognition will explore the use of machine learning within online crowdsourced text transcription projects. We will train a machine-learning model for handwritten text recognition using tens of thousands of pages of text transcribed by Zooniverse volunteers for the Anti-Slavery Manuscripts project (ASM), and create a workflow prototype to combine machine-generated transcriptions with crowdsourced effort using the collaborative transcription tools created for ASM. We will then test the HTR model on similar datasets from UMN’s Archives & Special Collections. Ultimately, we hope to create a viable prototype for uploading machine transcription data into the Zooniverse platform, and an evaluation of best practices for combining human and machine effort in the production of high-quality transcription data.

The project co-directors are Dr. Samantha Blickhan (Zooniverse Humanities Lead), Dr. Benjamin Wiggins (Director of the Digital Arts, Sciences, & Humanities (DASH) Program for University Libraries and Assistant Professor of History at UMN), and Dr. Darryl Wright (Research Associate in Physics and Astronomy at UMN).

Read the full announcement and view the list of awardees here.