[Humanist] 26.341 Mellon grant for the Early Modern OCR Project (TAMU)

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Oct 2 06:54:38 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 341.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2012 17:12:12 -0500
        From: Laura Mandell <laura.mandell at gmail.com>
        Subject: Announcing a Mellon Grant Received by the IDHMC at Texas A&M University

Announcing a Mellon Grant Received by the IDHMC at Texas A&M University

English Professor Laura Mandell, Director of the Initiative for Digital
Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC), along with two co-PIs Professor
Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna and Professor Richard Furuta, are very pleased to
announce that Texas A&M has received a 2-year, $734,000 development grant
from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Early Modern OCR Project
(eMOP, http://emop.tamu.edu ).  The two other project leaders, Anton
DuPlessis and Todd Samuelson, are book historians from Cushing Rare Books

Over the next two years, eMOP will work to improve scholarly access to an
extensive early modern text corpus. The overarching goal of eMOP is to
develop new methods and tools to improve the digitization, transcription,
and preservation of early modern texts.

The peculiarities of early printing technology make it difficult for
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to discern discrete characters
and, thus, to render readable digital output.  By creating a database of
early modern fonts, training the software that mechanically types page
images (OCR) to read those typefaces, and creating crowd-sourced correction
tools, eMOP promises to improve the quality of digital surrogates for early
modern texts. Receiving this grant makes possible improving the
machine-translation of digital page images with cutting-edge crowd-sourcing
and OCR technologies, both guided by book history.  Our goal is to further
the digital preservation processes currently taking place in institutions,
libraries, and museums globally.

The IDHMC, along with our participating institutions and individuals, will
aggregate and re-tool many of the recent innovations in OCR in order to
provide a stable community and expanded canon for future scholarly
pursuits. Thanks to the efforts of the Advanced Research Consortium (ARC)
and its digital hubs, NINES, 18thConnect, ModNets, REKn and MESA, eMOP* *has
received permissions to work with over 300,000 documents from Early English
Books Online (EBBO) and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO),
totaling 45 million page images of documents published before 1800.

The IDHMC is committed to the improvement and growth of digital projects
and resources, and the Mellon Foundation’s grant to Texas A&M for the
support of eMOP will enable us to fulfill our promise to the scholarly
community to educate, preserve, and develop the future of humanities

For further information, including webcasts explaining the problem and
copies of the grant application itself, please see the eMOP website:

Laura Mandell
Director, Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture
Professor, English
Texas A&M University
p: 979-845-8345
e: mandell at tamu.edu

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