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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday January 22, 2018

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Małgorzata Szynkielewska

Małgorzata Szynkielewska

Content & Exhibitions Coordinator , Europeana Foundation

World War One 'Living Memories' inspire generations in TuEuropeana Transcribathon

Europeana Transcribathon 1914-1918 in Warsaw  - almost 200 documents and 90 000 characters has been transcribed within 24 hours in Poland

Europeana Transcribathon 1914-1918 was a two-day workshop and a competitive event. It took place on 1-2 December 2017 at the National Film Archive - Audiovisual Institute (FINA) in Warsaw, Poland, and has been organised alongside the Game Jam with History, as part of the TuEuropeana programme. Members of the public from all age groups and levels of expertise were invited to join the event in Warsaw to transcribe and annotate Polish documents.

In 24 hours 16 participants in 4 teams have transcribed almost 200 documents and 90 000 characters. The youngest participant was 13, the oldest was 60+. Our top transcriber typed over 24,000 characters by herself.

Participants enjoyed the complexity of the task - transcribing is not only a mechanical process, but one that requires analytical skills for finding the exact context. Stanisław Kalinowski and Krzysztof Płuciennik, students who joined the event, mentioned also the importance of cooperation:

''The most interesting part was the team work, as it was often hard to decipher the documents. Plus they were written in various languages, so we had to ask each other for help''.

Participant of Transcribathon Warszawa 2017.
Malwina Toczek, National Film Archive - Audiovisual Institute , CC BY-SA


The participants did not work only on Polish texts, but used their language skills to transcribe documents in Latvian, English, French and Ukrainian. This showed the potential of the tool to be used at schools during foreign language courses, and not just history.  

AV recap from the Europeana Transcribathon 1914-1918 in Warsaw, Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny CC BY-SA

Thanks to participants’ work you can now read about people who experienced life during World War One, like Franciszek Szałach, an officer in Polish Legions or Władysław Zahorski, a physician and a writer from Vilnius. You also can join and start transcribing by signing up on the site: More documents in various languages are available there.

Karolina Widyńska, French teacher, who brought her students to FINA that weekend, said:

''I think [Transcribathon] was a fantastic event. Everything we do as a group, outside of school, is a valuable experience. And here we had a tool that showed us “living memories”, documents which someone had found, brought in, and which were later scanned and archived''.

Second edition of TuEuropeana

The TuEuropeana project started in Poland last year, inviting potential Europeana users and institutions with digital archival collections to exchange knowledge and experiences. Created by the Polish Europeana Network, a local working group initiated by The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2014 and coordinated by FINA (previously known as the National Audiovisual Institute) with support from the PSNC, the project raises awareness of Europeana Collections materials and promotes reuse of digital archival content.

Last year, the project included among other things educational events for cultural institutions, teachers and workshops for design students. This year, as well as the Transcribathon, they continued with a series of events: workshops, webinars and a game jam.