Transcription Assignment

Assignment Overview:

We will be working directly with pages from the facsimile of the 1600 edition of “Tarlton’s Jests” (facsimile pages are reproduced from the print copy held at the Huntington Library). These pages are printed in black letter type (a font popular in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries) and in early modern English, which means that spelling and punctuation are not standardized, and that some of the vocabulary is archaic or obscure. In order for us to rely on this work for text analysis, our digital edition, and for mapping data, we must transcribe the pages and clean them up, making it easier for us, our modern audiences (and computers) to read.

Assignment Objectives:

  1. Develop an understanding of how the transcription of a material document (in digitized form) affects the researcher’s connection with that document, and how the precision of that transcription provides the foundation for all future engagement with that transcribed work.
  2. Establish a collaborative work environment in which researchers rely upon and enhance their own accurate work process through sharing of and assisting one another with complex transcription challenges.

Assignment Outline:

  1. Each student will be assigned three pages from “Tarlton’s Jests” (assignments available on Google Doc). **
  2. Using the Juxta Editions transcription interface, each student will produce (and revise) an “old spelling” text for each of their pages.
  3. Using a text editor, each student will update (and revise) that old spelling text into a modern text with standardized spelling and punctuation.
  4. Students will compile all individual texts into one master file for use in text analysis.

** Students who are interested in earning extra credit can transcribe and update one extra page for 2 pts. toward their final course grade.

Assignment Instructions:

  1. Sign up for free Juxta Editions account. Send your user name via email to Professor Jakacki (due Monday 8/31 by 11pm).
  2. Using the Juxta Editions interface and our “Tarlton’s Jests” repository (you will be added as a collaborator once you have sent me your Juxta Editions user name), you will “check out” your pages one at a time. Do your old spelling transcription in this interface. Make sure to check each page back in when you are finished so that I can mark it.
    1. Old spelling draft transcriptions are due Friday 9/4 by 11pm; corrections will be returned Saturday night to give you time to revise them.
    2. Old spelling revised transcriptions are due before class on Monday 9/7.
  3. Export the revised text into a text editor (e.g. TextEdit on Mac, NotePad on PC) and update spelling and punctuation to reflect modern American English conventions. Keep each page in a separate file and remember to save them as .txt files. Label each file with the appropriate page number (e.g. Page04.txt, Page15.txt, etc.)
    1. Modern spelling drafts are due via email Wednesday 9/9 by 11pm; corrections will be returned Thursday night.
    2. Modern spelling texts will be read together in class on Friday 9/11.
    3. Modern spelling revisions are due via email Sunday 9/13 by 11pm. Reflection post #2 is also due on Sunday 9/13 by 11pm – reflection post assignment instructions will be posted separately.

Resource Assistance:

Refer to the Oxford English Dictionary (available via Bucknell Library website, under “Databases A to Z” and then look under “O”. This is the best dictionary for historically reliable definitions – bar none. We’ll be using it throughout the semester and it will be very helpful to you as you complete the transcription assignment.


Old Spelling Transcription will be assessed on accuracy.

  • Draft is worth 20% of assignment grade
  • Revision is worth 30% of assignment grade

Modern Spelling Text will be assessed on accuracy and clear transposition from old to modern spelling

  • Draft is worth 20% of assignment grade
  • Revision is worth 30% of assignment grade

The transcription assignment as a whole is worth 10% of your course grade. The reflection post is graded separately.

NOTE: late work will be penalized at a rate of 10% per day. Failure to submit one component of the assignment will severely compromise your ability to complete the assignment.