Historical preservation lies at the forefront of the project’s goals. This work includes the Svoboda Diaries and other related texts, such as the Margaret Makiya Transcriptions. Current work on these texts involves manually transcribing digital scans of the documents into other formats that we can then make available in digital form.
Interns engage with the historical collection through a range of projects, in addition to the preservation of the primary source texts. These projects range from the development of a digital map showing Joseph Svoboda’s travels along the Tigris River, to the creation of a virtual image gallery on the project website displaying images relating to the project’s content. Other interns conduct user research to explore usability issues on the Svoboda Diaries Project website and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, one project seeks to employ name entity recognition, a natural language processing technique, in order to easily present key persons to readers.
Some of the team’s activities focus on developing tools to assist in preservation activities. Team members created the “Autotagger” to improve digital content accessibility by making the content available in a variety of file formats. Another tool under development is the “Word Searcher”. This tool will help student interns identify illegible words more easily during the transcription process. The Word Searcher seeks to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the transcription pipeline. Continuing to develop and strengthen its technical tools will enable timely publication of high quality transcripts.
The Svoboda Diaries Project has set several critical goals to achieve its future vision. As a first step, the project is interested in expanding its research endeavors through forging international partnerships and connections. The team’s user experience (UX) researchers make these connections as one aspect of their UX studies, which engage a variety of humanities scholars. Ultimately, these partnerships may result in sustained research into nineteenth century Ottoman Iraq and surrounding regions.
Having already engaged a number of American universities, the team is seeking to connect with Iraqi research institutions, like the National Manuscript Museum in Baghdad. Partnering with the Iraqi National Manuscript Museum brings forth the possibility of creating new diary scans to complete the preservation of the corpus, a task paramount to the preservation of endangered materials in Arabic and English. With these endeavors in mind, the Svoboda Diaries Project hopes to continue playing a role in the preservation of historical corpora and other artifacts.
The Svoboda Diaries Project continually adjusts its future directions based on the interests of all team members and stakeholders, including a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and collaborators, and users from all over the world.