Project Description: Writing Across Borders

The “Writing Across Borders” project focuses on diaries and other forms of ego-documents. These sources show how migrants reflected on their travels and chronicle their shifting perspectives during their journey from one continent to the other. These ego-documents unveil the networks, practices, and knowledge needed to cope with often vastly changing environments. Unlike family letters, which are often difficult to access without knowledge of extensive family networks, diaries are usually more self-contained. This makes this genre especially suited for the involvement of citizen scholars.  In addition to the primary sources collected by “Mobile Lifeworlds in German-American Letters,” the project will also incorporate materials from our partner initiative Auswandererbriefe aus Nordamerika, based at the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha.

Project modules for online training will help citizen scholars read and transcribe 19th-century cursive script, or Kurrentschrift, using the open-source tool Scripto, developed at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and transcribe selected portions of the historical materials included in the project. Our pilot will then offer a workshop on using Transkribus, an online platform for handwritten text recognition and layout analysis. Citizen scholars who participate in the project will learn how to use manually-transcribed text to generate full transcriptions using Transkribus' machine learning model. Throughout this process, community-building and support will allow citizen scholars to gather knowledge from scholars and local experts about the material they are uncovering.

The COESO project was launched on January 19-20, 2021 and is scheduled to run for three years. There are ten citizen science pilots at the heart of the project. The project aims at a large growth of citizen science projects in the social sciences and humanities. Therefore, the project promotes the collaboration of all actors of a citizen science project, which includes the community of social sciences and humanities, the community of citizen science and the community of open scholarly communication. Further information can be found on the website COESO.