New archive project will transcribe and digitise almost 150 years of student records

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12 December 2016
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unn3amed-75496.jpg Transcription project
Student records at Aberystwyth University dating back almost 150 years are being digitised and transcribed to make them more accessible.

Student records at Aberystwyth University dating back almost 150 years are being digitised and transcribed to make them more accessible.

The records are contained in ten leather-bound manuscripts and date back to 1872 when the University opened its doors for the first time. To date, access to the fragile volumes has been restricted and the process of searching for information within them has been painstaking.  

Funded by donations from the University’s alumni, and matched by a 'significant donation' from the Cardiff Branch of the Aberystwyth University Old Students’ Association (OSA), the finished result will be a fully searchable electronic record of students who studied at Aberystwyth in the 19th century.  

The project is a collaboration between the OSA Cardiff Branch, Aberystwyth University Archives, and the National Library of Wales (NLW).

Preparation work

Before the project could begin, some preservation work was required which included encasing each volume in a custom-built archive box. Every page of the early student records was then individually digitised as a high resolution image by the NLW.

The slow and steady process of transcribing this digitised content will now begin, using an online transcription tool developed by the NLW as part of the project to digitise and transcribe the Welsh Book of Remembrance, housed at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. 

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Initially this transcription will be carried out by volunteers from the Cardiff branch of the OSA, and the hope is that other interested parties will be able to assist with the transcription in the coming months.

'Hugely exciting' project

Aberystwyth University Archivist, Julie Archer, said: “It is hugely exciting to be able, with the assistance of our amazing volunteers, to open up the wealth of information contained in the registers.

“The volunteers will benefit from learning new skills and researchers will benefit from hitherto untapped material."

The project to digitise and transcribe the University’s archives follows a previous very successful project involving volunteers from the Aberystwyth branch of the OSA, who spent several days assisting Julie Archer to allocate names to people and places in photographs dating back several decades.

For more on the work of Aberystwyth University Archives, or to volunteer to help with the project, visit the website.