An archive project takes a different look at crowdsourcing with some surprising results. This interesting topic came to us from Information Today in their article, “Bramble leaves, peacock dung and a shovelful of bees: transcribing 17th century recipes.”

In March 2021 the Royal College of Physicians archives team took part in its first transcribathon – an international crowdsourcing event to make the text of archival documents searchable.

The transcribathon was run by the Early Modern Recipes Collective (EMROC) and focused on 17th century recipe books from the RCP and Wellcome Collection. It is important to point out that the term recipe is also known as a receipt at that point in history and includes not only culinary, but also medical, cosmetic and veterinary recipes.

The transcribathon took place throughout the course of the day with 170 people transcribing 322 pages of text. Along their journey they uncovered recipes for interesting conditions such as baldness and even more interesting ingredients, such as white lead, peacock dung and burnt bees.

This journey into archives and crowdsourcing resulted in not only interesting finds but forging new relationships between organizations with common goals of preservation and discovery.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.