PIF brings fresh perspective and critical expertise to the important work of sharing our treasures with millions of people online.
- Janet Abrams, senior adviser to Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough
Digitizing the Smithsonian Institute's Herbarium
CHALLENGE: Make the Smithsonian Institute’s digitization of 137 million+ artifacts more findable, useful and informative to researchers and members of the public.
SOLUTION: In just six months, a team of Fellows developed and launched an end-to-end solution for creating digital records for historic files. Through crowdsourcing transcriptions, the project has engaged thousands of volunteers who have helped to transcribe and review historic and scientific records, making them easily accessible to the public for the first time.
The homepage of the Smithsonian Transcription Center.
A crowdsourced transcription in process.
1,400+ volunteers contributing.
$6 million in cost-savings.
"It may sound odd, but plenty of people would rather parse the curly, old-fashioned handwriting of a bugle player in a Civil War military band than stream an old episode of Breaking Bad, as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s online Transcription Center. So far, 5,883 volunteers from around the world have transcribed more than 150,000 pages from over 1,000 projects."
"There are 5 million plant specimens in the US Herbarium at the Natural History Museum’s Botany Department, one of the most extensive collections of plant life in the world. They all have labels. But only 1.3 million of those labels can be read by computers. That’s where you come in."