Sean Stapleton 23/05/2018 Measuring the ANZACs
By Sean Stapleton
Measuring the ANZACs, a project focused on digitising of World War I archives, has announced the wide-scale restructuring of its open transcription platform.
The site redesign aims to make it easier for the public to help with recording soldiers’ personal records.
The project was first unveiled two and a half years ago and has since become the second most popular project on the citizen science website Zooniverse, a platform for volunteers to aid in crowd-sourced scientific research.
Evan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Population Studies and Sociology at the University of Minnesota, founded the project.
He said his mission was to recover “the story of all those who served, from their lives before the war, through their wartime service, and what happened to them afterwards”.
As part of the redesign, the recording process will be streamlined by classifying the pages of files before they are available for transcription.
Transcription fields will be pre-classified as there is more known now about record formatting, leaving volunteers to transcribe only what is written in each field.
One of the largest changes will be in how new records are uploaded, as the current setup is as Roberts describes it, “is clunky at best”.
His current estimation is that the restructuring will be complete before the end of the year.
Evan Roberts presented the announcement at the Auckland War Memorial Museum to staff involved in the project and a group of Sociology Students from the University of Minnesota.
The students followed with a series of presentations on soldiers they had each focussed on through their project transcription work.
For many of the students, they found common ground with the young men they were researching. Austin Hurlock was particularly invested, and revealed to the group, “I found this story especially interesting to me in how it mirrored my experiences as an army veteran.”
Daniel Millar, a Content Technician for the Auckland Museum, assisted the visiting students in their research.
He believed the success of the project was due to “how small New Zealand was at that time [World War I] and how as a smaller country even now it makes records so much easier to trace”.
The focus has so far has been on the medical records of the ANZACs. Moving forward Evans aims for researchers to invest more time into misconduct records, a field he claims is often neglected out of fear of disrespect for the dead.