Nova Scotia Archives


Transcribe is the Nova Scotia Archives’ collaborative online workspace where the public can participate in enhancing access to our collections documenting over 300 years of Nova Scotia history, people, and culture. This is a great opportunity for participants to deeply experience our collections and transcribe hand-written historical materials.

Crowdsourcing empowers communities to participate in their own history. We are using advancements in open source transcription tools and projects developed by our peers. This supports empowerment by inviting the public to be our partners in making our collections more visible and more accessible. Help us tell the story of all Nova Scotians.

This is a test project for us and we are starting small but plan to add more documents as we learn more about the technology and how you are using it. We welcome your feedback – contact us or join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.



Transcription Tips

  • Begin by clicking ‘I’m not a robot’ at the bottom of the page – this is at its heart a human-driven project.
  • Save your work frequently – every 15 minutes – if you don’t save before you navigate away from the page, your work will be lost!
  • Copy the text as is, including punctuations, misspellings and abbreviations – if you can’t resist correcting spelling mistakes, please enter the correctly spelled word in brackets after the misspelled word: werk [work]
  • If you aren’t sure of a word but want to guess, indicate with square brackets and a question mark, for example: [town?]; If you can't make out a word at all, use [illegible]. If you spot [illegible] in an already started transcription, feel free to correct it if you know what the word is.
  • No need to account for formatting (spacing, line breaks, alignment); the goal is to provide text for searching and better readability. Do not transcribe hyphens or spaces in words that occur at line breaks.
  • When transcribing parts of the letter that were written around the edge of the paper or perhaps written cross-wise on the paper add information in brackets to the end of the document. For example: add the transcribed information to the end of the letter and write [written at the top of page 1] or [written across page 1] 
  • Consider the context. If you’re having trouble with a word or passage, read around it and think about what a likely word would be, or look for other letters and spellings in the document that are similar.
  • Contact us or join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter. Use the Discuss tab on each page to ask fellow transcribers if you get stuck on a word, find something interesting or have a tip to share with us.




Q: Do I have to register?
A: No, registration is not required. All you need to do is click the ‘I’m not a robot’ to start transcribing. We do want to hear about your experience so please join the discussions and contact us with feedback.


Q: I’m stuck! What do I do?
A: Mark the word with either [illegible] or [word?] and invite the “crowd” to help you. Join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter and help each other. Contact us and we’ll try to help too.


Q: What happens to finished transcriptions? 
A: Transcriptions of entire documents, once complete, reviewed and approved, will be downloaded and added to our online collections at as full-text for searching and reading.