As part of our work from home, staff at Fondren are working to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu).
Volunteers for the project include staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration. With hard work and enthusiasm the team has fully transcribed over 50 historical manuscripts so far. The transcriptions improve access for all our patrons, and enable scholars to more easily use the materials for research purposes such as text mining and geospatial mapping.
Many of the first materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these letters date from the U.S. Civil War and touch on the authors’ opinions at the time on slavery and political issues. It should also be noted that these specific Civil War collections include voices of white authors, and there is a gap in our Civil War collections of African American voices.
As you can see from the examples, having a transcription included with the pdf of the original letter will make research significantly easier; the letters and their transcriptions can be found using the titles beneath each letter as the search term in the Digital Scholarship Archive.