Today: Tuesday, 16 August 2022 year

Science: computers can decipher your great grandmother’s scribbles soon

Science: computers can decipher your great grandmother’s scribbles soon

The IT wizards are going to help the historians in the complex task as a deciphering the handwritten letters from the past centuries. The computer program Transkribus could be an extremely important for the scientists.

The program Transcribus is already available in a number of languages, including English and Norwegian, this app can transcribe handwritten text from the different historical documents like diaries, letters, etc. The Danish historians are working hard to produce a Danish version of Transcribus, said Søren Bitsch Christensen, director of Aarhus City Archives and an urban historian. In particular, he noted:

“It could be revolutionary for the world of research if we can make this work optimally here. I think it’s really fantastic,”

Mr Christensen is leading the initiative in Denmark and presented his results during the 29th Congress of Nordic Historians in Aalborg, Denmark.

An excellent deciphering tool Transkribus will help historians

According to the coders, their Transkribus is based on an existing technology that recognises text. When the program is fully developed it will function as both a text recognition tool and as a database where you can search for old pieces of writing from Danish parish councils and town meetings.

Bo Poulsen, lecturer and historian at the Department of Culture and Global Studies at Aalborg University who spent 11 months transcribing old handwritten texts during his PhD studies, is excited with the perspectives of a decipher program:

“History is a research field, which is luckily framed by digitalisation and globalisation. It can potentially be very important for the research being conducted, because it enables you to search for Danish texts from anywhere in the world, which can lead to better research results,”

says Poulsen.

The Transcribus could be interesting to search for which goods were shipped past Elsinore in the 1400s.

‘At this time, the Danish king exacted tolls on all ship travel—the so-called Sound Dues—and here you would easily be able to see when southern fruits first came to Denmark and which types of fruit were most typically imported,’

Poulsen explained.