Tag Archives: scanningprojects

Nice Document, Einstein

e=mc2From time to time, I like to feature some interesting scanning projects, and this one certainly qualifies.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has put more than 2,000 of Albert Einstein’s documents online for anyone to view.

There are manuscripts (including one of only three manuscripts containing e=mc2), letters from his personal life, his Nobel Prize, speeches about the Jewish people, and much more.

The digitization project is being launched with 2,000 high-quality images on March 19, 2012. The project will continue throughout 2012.

Over 80,000 records of documents held in original and as copies in the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University (AEA) and at the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech (EPP) can now be accessed with a user-friendly interface via the internet.

You can view the gallery here.

(via NPR)

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See The Dead Sea Scrolls From Your Computer

Isiah Dead Sea ScrollFrom time to time, I like to feature interesting scanning projects here on DocumentSnap, and it is pretty difficult to find one more interesting than this.

I’m going to guess that you have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but if not, here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. They were specifically located at Khirbet Qumran in the British Mandate for Palestine, in what is now named the West Bank.

In most cases, the only way to see the Scrolls has been to go to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. However, now the museum, in conjunction with Google, has unveiled the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project.

Great Isiah Scroll

Here is what Google has to say about it in their blog post:

Now, anyone around the world can view, read and interact with five digitized Dead Sea Scrolls. The high resolution photographs, taken by Ardon Bar-Hama, are up to 1,200 megapixels, almost 200 times more than the average consumer camera, so viewers can see even the most minute details in the parchment. For example, zoom in on the Temple Scroll to get a feel for the animal skin it’s written on—only one-tenth of a millimeter thick.

You can browse the Great Isaiah Scroll, the most well known scroll and the one that can be found in most home bibles, by chapter and verse. You can also click directly on the Hebrew text and get an English translation. While you’re there, leave a comment for others to see.

This is a really cool project with a cool video. Check it out:

I’d still love to go see the real thing someday, but for now, this will have to do.

(via Laughing Squid)

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The British Library iPad App Takes You To The 19th Century

British Library iPad App

In the Spring, the CEO of GoDaddy upset a lot of people when he went on an elephant hunting trip. This reaction would have seemed pretty strange to the public back in 1871, when Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred went on a 5 week long trip through Ceylon (aka Sri Lanka).

This trip was documented in the book The Duke Of Edinburgh In Ceylon. A Book of Elephant and Elk Sport, and according to a review in Nature at the time, “It appeals to two sections of the public, those who eagerly seize upon every incident connected with the mode of life of any member of our Royal family, and those who are equally eager after any description from life of sport in those countries where wild beasts worthy of a hunter’s rifle abound.”

I know all this because the The British Library has released an absolutely fantastic free iPad app with 1000 books from their 19th Century Collection.

British Library Duke Of Edinburgh In Ceylon

The scanning quality of these books is just amazing, and they have full color illustrations as well.

Poor Elephant
(Watch out, elephant!).

This is honestly one of the most fascinating apps that I have on my iPad, with subjects like Geograhphy, Geology, History, Poetry, 18th & 19th Century novels, and the list goes on.

British Library Kindergarten Geograpgy
(I’m pretty sure my son didn’t learn about circumference in Kindergarten this year)

I can’t say enough good things about this app, so check it out if you are into this sort of thing. It’s one of the coolest scanning projects I have come across.

via TUAW

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OCR and Monks

St. Gregory Palamas Monastery

Longtime readers will know that I am a sucker for stories of interesting scanning projects.

This case study from the ABBYY Newsletter is no exception. It seems that some monks at the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery had a problem:

“We have a number of printed documents in polytonic Greek that we needed to convert into digital text,” said Father Gregory of the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery. “They utilize the full array of classical Greek accents and breathing marks.” Since most unicode fonts support polytonic Greek, he knew it was simply a matter of finding the right tool. “We needed an efficient work flow solution that would undercut the labor involved in typing material by hand.”

In case you’re wondering, polytonic Greek is the type of Greek character used in ancient Greek texts.

The Monastery reached out to ABBYY, and ABBYY hooked them up with a copy of FineReader 10 Pro. While FineReader doesn’t specifically support polytonic Greek, you can train it to recognize the characters.

In exchange, ABBYY got some goat cheese and smoked salmon. Seems like a reasonable trade to me.

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Papers Of The US War Department

Back in 1799, George Washington wrote a letter complaining that he was short-changed on his expense claim. In fact, “the expenses he incurred during his recent trip to Philadelphia were more than the pay and emoluments that he received from the government and even exceed another month’s pay and emoluments.”

How do I know this? because of an interesting scanning project (and you know how I like interesting scanning projects) called the Papers of the War Department 1784-1800.

Back in November 1800, a fire ripped through the War Office and it was thought that all the papers in it were destroyed. It turns out that thankfully they were saved, and now there is a massive project to restore them:

Papers of the War Department 1784-1800 will present this collection of more than 55,000 documents in a free, online format with extensive and searchable metadata linked to digitized images of each document, thereby insuring free access for a wide range of users.

What makes this project different is that it is crowdsourced. PWD is using an open source tool called Scripto to open up the transcription to pretty much anyone (even you!). You can learn more about becoming a transcription associate here, and you can then browse the documents or search the archive and transcribe away.

The editors of the PWD project have also selected a list of transcription candidates if you want an idea where to get started.

So if you are interested in helping out with a great project, or want to transcribe a letter about Canadian refugees, they can use your help.

(Photo by Phil Roeder)

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JFK Library Brings History Online

Being Canadian and all I am not exactly an expert on US history, but my understanding is that there was a President that was slightly popular at one time with the initials JFK. Since I am always fascinated by interesting scanning projects, I took notice of the huge Access To A Legacy project at the JFK Library.

The library teamed up with AT&T, Iron Mountain, Raytheon, and EMC to put together the archive, with the project starting in 2006.

To start its online archive, The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library chose to digitize its six, most important collections. These include the President’s White House office files, his personal papers, outgoing letters, and the photos, videos and audio recorded during his time in the White House. More than 200,000 documents, 300 audiotapes, 72 film reels and 1,500 photos from these collections are now available online. The contents here include a veritable highlight reel of Kennedy’s life and presidency. Students, teachers, researchers and members of the public can now go online to see President Kennedy’s inaugural address; or to watch him debate President Nixon; or to hear him challenge America to land first on the moon; and more.

If you want to check out the archive, go to the Digital Archive Section.

In case you are wondering where this data actually sits, here is what Iron Mountain has to say (note: I don’t think it is actually inside a mountain made of iron, which would be pretty cool):

The library found this home in a sprawling former limestone mine located 200 feet below farms and rolling countryside in Western Pennsylvania. It is the Iron Mountain Underground, a high-security bunker for millions of government records, business documents, historical and pop culture treasures, as well as petabytes of emails, medical images and other digital files.
This 1000-acre facility operates like a city underground, featuring backup power for seven days, its own water treatment plant, two fire trucks and around-the-clock armed security.

You can see more about the archive by watching this Youtube video:

Now.. who did it, the mob or the CIA? Discuss in the comments.

(Photo by ReneS)

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OCR And Orphan Works

As I have written about before, I always find it fascinating to read about different scanning projects, especially when it comes to scanning old stuff.

Over at the GalleyCat blog, Jason Boog writes about using Optical Character Recognition software to dig through orphan works.

What the heck are “orphan works”? I didn’t know either. According to Wikipedia:

An orphan work is a copyrighted work for which the copyright owner cannot be identified and contacted.

Here’s the project that the GalleyCat editor was working on:

While researching an essay about New York City poets and the Great Depression last year, this GalleyCat editor read through hundreds of pages from 1930s novels, periodicals, and self-published materials that couldn’t leave the New York Public Library.

He used his digital camera to take pictures and then ABBYY FineReader Express to OCR the text.

The results were impressive. Check out the GalleyCat post to see more.

(Photo by p0psicle)

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Bletchley Park Putting History Online

So you think you have a big scanning project to do.

Ever since reading the books Cryptonomicon and Enigma, I’ve been fascinated with the story of Bletchley Park, the site of British codebreaking activities during World War II.

Of course like many important historic sites, it has suffered from years of financial neglect and has millions of secret documents that have literally sat there for decades.

Hewlett-Packard heard about Bletchley’s plight and has donated scanners and staff to digitize the records and put them online.

He said since the archive is so big nobody knows exactly what each individual document stored there contains.

However, the information they expect to dig out will definitely include communication transcripts, communiques, memoranda, photographs, maps and other material relating to key events that took place during the war.

He said: “We have many boxes full of index cards, which have lots of different messages on them. But this will be our chance to follow a trail and put the messages together so we can find out what they really mean.

I love hearing about these massive scanning projects, especially when it is for historical purposes.

Most interesting to me is how they are already filling in gaps based on the documents they have gone through so far. For example, how “countries such as Spain, Switzerland and Sweden were perhaps not as neutral as they were portrayed.” Innnnteresting.

Do you have any other examples of big historic scanning projects? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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