Reckoning Time in Medieval Pisa

Transcribing the Chronicle and Tagging Subjects with FromThePage


Our first step toward preparing the chronicle for analysis was to transcribe the text from digital images of the original manuscript using

FromThePage supports collaborative transcription, allowing team members to work on different parts of the chronicle simultaneously. Working from photographs of the manuscript's pages uploaded to the site as individual image files, each member was responsible for conducting a preliminary transcription of several pages and reviewing other team members' transcriptions. Throughout the transcription process, FromThePage tracked our progress by marking pages needing review, announcing when changes were made, and maintaining a change log for each page.

The process of transcription was, for our project, not only a necessary step, but also a unique pedagogical tool. For those of us not fluent in Italian, transcribing the text was a way to begin to understand the nature of the document. Engaging with the text on the level of individual characters and words was a way for us to get to know the layout and hand of the manuscript despite our language barrier. Later, as we transcribed more pages, we began to notice certain words and symbols appearing with frequency, offering us both a hands-on way of learning some Italian vocabulary, and a means of perceiving patterns in the text. This same phenomenon occurred during OCR correction, and proved to be invaluable when it came time for us to think ontologically about the text.

Subject Tagging

Creating a viable transcription of the source text in a digital format was an important first step in digital textual analysis because it prepared the text to be read and modified by the digital platforms or tools selected to serve the project's specific goals or questions. By including opening and closing tags to the transcribed text, for example, FromThePage allowed us to indicate certain formatting elements such as abbreviations, strikeouts, and superscripts, thereby allowing us to produce a more detailed account of how the manuscript original appeared in our digital images.
Moreover, FromThePage's indexing and annotation functions made it easy for us to pinpoint words and phrases identified as temporal markers and ascribe them subject category designations. Because the site supports nested subject categories, we were able to capture information on three facets of temporal markers simultaneously: function, granularity, and type.

From the subject tags we created, FromThePage allowed us to generate spreadsheets of our temporal markers in .csv (comma separated value) format  to conduct a quantitative data analysis of certain elements of the BL 10027 chronicle text.

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