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KCUR 03312020Cpl. Reid Fields, left, frequently wrote letters to his sweetheart, Clara Wrasse, during World War I. The National WWI Museum and Memorial is working to transcribe documents like Wrasse's reply.

Instead of Laying Off Workers, National WWI Museum Redeploys Them to Expand Digital Archive 

By Elle Moxley
via the KCUR 89.3 radio station (MO) web site

Even when the National World War I Museum and Memorial is open, the majority of its vast holdings aren’t on public display but stored for safekeeping.

Now, with a metro-wide stay-at-home order keeping the Kansas City museum closed until at least April 24, museum employees who usually work with guests are helping transcribe about 10,000 digitized pages from letters, diaries and journals.

“One of our team members came up with the brilliant idea to use this time and transition part of our staff toward our goal of fully transcribing these items from the collection,” President and CEO Matthew Naylor said.

“It’s a creative solution to provide continuous work opportunities to our team members who otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have tasks during the period of time when the Museum and Memorial is closed.”

Because the collection was scanned previously, employees can do the transcription work from home. Registrar and Exhibitions Manager Stacie Petersen said transcription makes the archival material more accessible to digital visitors, especially people who are visually impaired and rely on screen readers for text to speech.

“Transcription takes handwriting in cursive and turns it into something basically anyone can read,” Petersen said. “In a typed format, you can pull into Google Translate, which can translate it roughly into other languages.”

That’s important because digital visitors come to the museum’s website from 169 countries. Transcription also ensures that the content of the documents won’t be lost to time.

Read the entire article on the KCUR web site here:

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