Transcribing Memorial Documents

Why transcribe?

The Australian War Memorial’s collection includes scans of records, diaries, notebooks, letters, theatre programs and maps.

You can help make this material readable, searchable and accessible to all by transcribing it.

Become a living part of the National Collection and unlock history!

Even a little bit helps

Transcription is not easy, it can be time-consuming and not all documents are interesting.

It is okay if you don’t finish something; submit what you have done. What is there will help the next person.

Register

You must register for an account and log in before you can transcribe documents on this website.

You will need to provide a valied email address; your email address will not be displayed.

You will need to verify your email address to complete your registration.

Read the terms and conditions of use.

Find a document to transcribe

You can find digitised collections to transcribe using the Memorial’s Collection Search. The transcription option is visible whenever you are viewing text based documents.

Collections that have digitised material to transcribe include Manuscripts, Official Records, Private Records and Published Collections. Please note that only a small proportion of these collections have been digitised at this stage.  

How to transcribe a document

Clicking "Transcribe this document" will open the transcription tool. 

You will see the original document on the left hand side of the screen and you will type your transcription into the right hand side of the screen.

Copy what is there

Do your best to copy what is on the original document; enter words, dates, names and abbreviations as they are in the original document. 

Reproduce the text you see on the page, including notes in the margins, or calculations.

Spelling errors, abbreviations, acronyms

If you notice a spelling error, abbreviation or acronym, please transcribe it as it appears on the document.

You can include the correct spelling or full version of an abbreviation or acronym in square brackets (see below) following it.

For example:

"Freemantle [Fremantle] to Suez" or "Transferred to Alex. from Gall. [Transferred to Alexandria from Gallipoli]"

or

"Pte H.A. Browett g.s.w. rt. forearm [Private Harold Arthur Browett gun shot wound right forearm]"
Dec 13, ’17 [13 December 1917] 

Make notes

Use square brackets [ ] to make a note about the document that is not included in the text of the document.

For example:

[Some words are missing as the corner of the page has been torn off]

Don't break words

Where words break over a line, or have a hyphen in them, write the full word.  This makes it easier to find.

When you can’t read words

If a word or words are illegible, use [illegible] in their place.

If you think you might know what the word is but are not quite certain use square brackets and a question mark for example: [Cairo?].

You can use the context of the document to help work out what the words might be.

Look for similar words or letters in the text that could be used to decode the word you are struggling with.

Please do not guess what the word may be.

Don't worry too much about formatting

You don’t have to indicate bolded or italicised text, but you can.  Ignore accent marks.

You can insert special characters if you can find it in the list of symbols supported, but you don’t have to.

Languages other than English

Text written in a language other than English should be transcribed as it appears on the page.

If possible, add an English translation in square brackets so that the English text can be searched.

Non-textual elements

You can use square brackets [ ] to describe an aspect of the document that you can see, but are not able to transcribe.

For example:

[two postage stamps in the top right hand corner of the envelope]

or

[there is a drawing of a daffodil on the letter]

Don't add your own comments or questions

If you have questions or comments about the text you are transcribing, don't include them in the transcription.

Go to our Contact page for information about how to get more information.

Disclaimer

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this site contains names, images and moving images of deceased people. It may also include historically and culturally sensitive images and moving images, sound recordings, words, terms or descriptions; such material does not reflect the Memorial’s viewpoint but rather the social attitudes and circumstances of the period or place in which it was created. Some of the images in the Memorial’s collection depict the consequences of warfare, including human suffering or death, which some people may find disturbing. Some of the documents may describe distressing events, or use offensive language.  The Memorial does not endorse the views contained in the documents.

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