WV GeoExplorer Volunteer Page

Volunteers are needed to perform research, transcription, mapping, programming, and a variety of other tasks for the West Virginia GeoExplorere Program.  If you or your organization would like to participate contact Bill Theriault at wmtheriault@myactv.net or Brad Wiles at bwiles@apus.edu.  Our digitized newspaper collection includes more than 3,500 issues and counting  The goal of the newspaper transcription project is to provide researchers with legible materials and to encode these items with information that makes them more easily searchable by time, place, topic, and individual.

Here’s what it takes to participate in the project:

1. Open an issue of a newspaper through the Browse Resources | Newspapers selection on the menu bar and review it for an item you wish to transcribe. Unless you choose to transcribe an entire issue, select something of local (Jefferson County) or state (Virginia) importance. For example, the September 16, 1808, issue of the Farmer’s Repository contains a notice that offers a reward for a runaway slave.

2. Check the West Virginia GeoExplorer Bibliography to ensure that the item has not yet been transcribed. To do this, select Search | Search Bibliography from the menu bar. Type the date in the Event field (9/16/1808). Select the Title of Book or Publication field from the pulldown list of searchable fields and enter the name of the newspaper: Farmer’s Repository. (The search engine ignores punctuation, such as apostrophes.) Select the Find It button. If more than one item in the database meets your search criteria, a table of results will appear below the search area. Click the magnifying glass next to a item and scroll to the bottom of the page to view the corresponding record. In this case, the search revealed an abstract of the item but not a full transcription, so you can proceed
with your transcription. If your search did not yield any results, you may also proceed.

3. Once you have selected an item to transcribe, contact us through this Volunteer Page or the main Blog Page and identify the item you want to transcribe. We will get you logged into our transcription system, where you can upload files and discuss your activities as needed.

4. As you transcribe an item, retain the original paragraph structure, punctuation, spelling, upper/lower case, and bold or italic words if present. Ignore end of line hyphenation, paragraph indentation, and other special formatting. Include [?] if you are unsure of a word or […] to indicate an illegible section.

5. To ensure that dates can be searched, they need to be annotated using a standardized format. If the item includes a date (e.g., September 16, 1808), follow it with a numeric equivalent. For example, “The fire occurred on September 16, 1808 [9/16/1808] and destroyed the entire second floor.”  If the item refers to a date without spelling it out (e.g., “last Saturday”), use the date and day on the first page of the newspaper to determine the actual date. To figure out more complicated dates, you may want to use a perpetual calendar. Obituaries often contain an indirect reference to a person’s date of birth. For example, “he died last Saturday at the age of 27 years, 5 months, and 11 days.”  You can use a birth date calculator to be more precise. Since these calculators use ageneral formula to produce a result, they are not always accurate. If you use one, make a note in yourtranscription. For example, “he died on September 16th of this year [9/16/1808] at the age of 27 years, 5 months, and 11 days [4/5/1781, calculated].”

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4 thoughts on “WV GeoExplorer Volunteer Page

  1. This is a wonderful project and I would love to be a part of it. I’m retired and have a history in data entry and would like to help transcribe the newspapers in my free time. I’ve read the instructions on the volunteer page and will be sending my email to Mr. Theriault.

  2. What do I do now? Do I just register and follow the instructions or does someone have to sign me up. Is there any training involved in addition to the instructions?

    • The best thing to do is contact Bill Theriault to get authorization in Basecamp, which is the program we’re using to manage transcriptions. He just needs to send you an invite and that will set things up. Once you’re in you would follow the instructions on this page and you’ll communicate with us through Basecamp, the blog, or email as your work progresses. Shoot Bill an email when you get a minute. Thanks!

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