09 August 2008

Connecticut: Library seeks transcription volunteers

The Woodbury (Connecticut) Genealogy Project is transcribing old books, making them accessible in electronic format, according to this story.

WOODBURY - Mary Hord's fingers move along the faded print. Her eyes alternate between the cookbook open in front of her and the computer screen. Her hands tap on the keyboard.

Ms. Hord, a volunteer for the Woodbury Genealogy Project, is transcribing the faded print of a cookbook, circa the early 1800s, that contains recipes from former Woodbury resident Lydia Bacon.

"The purpose of the project is to create an accessible resource for people interested in learning about their genealogy or local genealogy in general," said Woodbury resident Matt Berardino.

Mr. Berardino, who graduated from UConn with a degree in history, told Voices he is working on the project for the Friends of the Library.

Volunteers are sought for the project which focuses on town residents.

"Our project is geared toward things that have people's names in it," said Laurie Jones, a staff member at the library who is a part of the Woodbury Genealogy Project.

Ms. Jones remembers when a woman from out of state came to the library because her family members were from Woodbury. At that time, she said the library had loose files of information for the project, but nothing was electronic.

The woman found a picture of her grandfather and other members of an organization he belonged to.

"It was moving for all of us," said Ms. Jones. "She, of course, got all teary. It was one of the things that motivated us. She had never seen a picture of him before."

Volunteers should have some computer skills and be interested in common Woodbury names or their relatives' history and who wish to contribute to a searchable resource. An optical character recognition program turns text images into recognizable, searchable text, which are stored on CDs and on a back-up system. Today, information is kept in folders.

"That's what we're working on now," he said. "There are some things that are too faded or are handwritten that the computer can't recognize. Some things have to be transcribed by hand."

The genealogy project has been compiling town residents' obituaries for six years and would like to receive older obituaries.

The library sometimes receives trunks of papers from estate sales, and Jones is sure more treasures are out there, but not yet discovered.

For details, call the Woodbury Public Library, 203-263-3502 or email woodburygenealogyprojectATyahooDOTcom.

There's more at the story link above.

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