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Join our Christmas Transcribathon Run

When war was declared in August 1914 many thought the fighting would be over by Christmas. For many, Christmas was a time of goodwill towards others, a time for family and a celebration of light and peace. But the war was not over by Christmas. In fact, many soldiers spent more than one Christmas away from home.

In the short and dark December days, as the temperatures dropped and the fighting slowed down, families kept their thoughts on their loved ones at the front. Aware that they would be absent from the festivities of the season, soldiers from all across Europe sent seasonal greetings in long letters and on postcards.

Many of these personal documents, in many different languages are waiting to be read again. You can now help bringing these unique heartfelt testimonies back to life. Take part in transcribing the letters, notes and poems that were written 100 years ago.

Join our special Christmas Run! Click here to start now.


German soldiers celebrating Christmas / CC-BY-NC-ND National Library of Denmark

Can you read what they wrote 100 years ago?

On 9 November we launched a new online crowdsourcing campaign: Transcribe Europeana 1914-1918. We would like to mobilize our community to help unlock all the unique testimonies that can be found on our website for future generations by transcribing the handwritten texts that are otherwise difficult to read and cannot be searched or translated automatically online.

Transcribe Europeana 1914-1918 will run as an ongoing online challenge — a ‘Transcribathon’ — to encourage members of the public to transcribe digital versions of the unique letters and diaries of those who experienced the First World War and that can be found at Europeana 1914-1918. The challenge will run until 2018, the centenary of the end of WW1.

To launch the competition the 1st International Transcribathon took place this week in Riga at the Latvian National Library. Nine teams from across Europe participated in a special 48-hour challenge event judged by an international jury. Prizes were awarded on 9 November, to winning teams from France and the University of Latvia.


You are invited to take up the challenge at www.transcribathon.eu with digital versions of the handwritten testimonies from WW1’s home and battle fronts in 22 languages. Participants add their own transcriptions, geo-tags and other annotations to texts, enabling greater understanding and access to these original historical scripts. The website is free to use and open to all.
A simple e-tutorial teaches you how to decipher old and difficult handwriting in various languages with an easy-to-use online transcription tool. We hope that the challenge and the tool will help build an international community of contributors of all ages and nationalities who can share their knowledge and experience.
The Transcribathon is ‘run’ by accumulating virtual ‘miles’ with every word transcribed. You work on the transcription of selected documents, for example a diary or a letter, in a specific language. If you’ve find an interesting document on this site you can ask to have it uploaded on the tool. A ‘Transcribometer’ charts your progress as they compete against others to move up the transcribers league.
People can take part individually from home or as teams at special Transcribathon events where a jury awards points for quality, quantity and presentation of transcriptions. All future event details will be announced on www.transcribathon.eu and www.europeana1914-1918. The first planned events are for Romania and Italy in the first half of 2017.
Try it out for yourself now and dive into the lives of those who lived 100 years ago.

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