In 2015, I had the privilege of working on the Seward Family Digital Archive. This project, spearheaded by Prof. Thomas Slaughter, seeks to digitize and transcribe the extensive correspondence of the Seward family. The most famous Seward, William Henry, served President Abraham Lincoln as Secretary of State.

During my time with the project, I served as the Data Manager. The role involved three main tasks.

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Page 3 of a letter from Lazette Maria Worden to Francis Adeline Seward dated 7 July 1822

Page 3 of a letter from Lazette Maria Worden to Francis Adeline Seward dated 7 July 1822. See the entire letter here.

First, I oversaw the digitization process. This involved coordinating with the Project Manager and the staff at the University of Rochester's Rare Books and Special Collections Library in selecting letters for digitization. Selected letters were then photographed, catalogued, tagged with meta-data, and distributed to other members of the project for transcription.

I oversaw a small team of undergraduates who were the primary photographers. I then renamed the digital image files, imported them into the project's Adobe Lightroom catalog, and tagged them with metadata.

My second task involved the management of the image catalog, ensuring its forward compatibility, security, and organization.

Finally, I participated in the work of reading and transcribing the letters themselves. The transcriptions were then tagged to enable cross-referencing persons, locations, and literary works as they were mentioned in the letters.

Skills and Experience:

  • Digitizing historical documents using photographic methods.
  • Using Adobe's Lightroom to generate a flexible, tagged image database.
  • Managing a small team.
  • Coordinating project workflow.
  • Bash scripting and XML (the latter with reference to TEI standards).
  • Managing backups and low-risk data security.