Encoding the Thomas D. Craven Diary

In the spring of 2018, several library and archives staff from Thomas P. O’Neill (Nancy Adams, Meg Critch, Sarah DeLorme, Anna Kijas) and John J. Burns Library (Kathleen Monahan, Annalisa Moretti) began a collaborative transcription and encoding project of a 1917 diary written by Boston College student, Thomas D. Craven. This diary was written during the spring semester of Craven’s senior year when he began serving in the Army Air Corps Medical Corps during World War I.

Thomas D. Craven, c.1917
Thomas D. Craven (The Sub turri: The Yearbook of Boston College, 1917).

Nancy and I created a Guide to Transcription to help guide the transcription process for the team members. This guide also provides basic TEI encoding directions, because we wanted to begin identifying elements and attributes as we transcribed each entry with the hope that it would make the later review and encoding phase a bit easier and streamlined. After the project team reviewed the guide and provided input, everyone began transcribing approximately 50 entries per person. Kathleen and Sarah began working on a prosopography to identify people, places, and organizations mentioned in the diary. Meg began developing the TEI header for the diary, which will include descriptions about the electronic edition and manuscript source. The transcription phase was completed in December 2018 and the next phase has begun to review and make corrections, as well as do a closer encoding of the text.

Here is the first page from the diary dated January 1, 1917 followed by the first draft of the encoded transcription:

Page 1 of Thomas D. Craven Diary from January 1, 1917
Diary entry dated January 1, 1917


Encoded transcription of diary entry dated January 1, 1917
Encoded transcription of diary entry dated January 1, 1917

Our next task is to review the transcriptions and further encode the text according to the TEI. This will also require a discussion on the use of specific elements and attributes. The group agreed that we will use TAPAS to render and publish the TEI files from this project, although we may consider creating a stand alone project website where we can present the edition with additional content, images, or visualizations.

The work of this group aims to not only make this content more accessible and visible to a wider community, but to expand our own expertise and understanding of the TEI through project-based learning. The TEI files and guidelines will demonstrate how we chose to encode these texts and can be re-used for other projects or pedagogical purposes. In addition, encoding these materials will make them easier to discover and access online and will further promote the John J. Burns Library collections. Project-based learning can be used as a model for future initiatives at Boston College that aim to develop expertise and skills in areas of digital scholarship.

This project is currently under development, but you can view a sample of encoded text from this diary (created previously) and other special collections materials found in our TEI Learning Docs project hosted in TAPAS. It is part of our ongoing effort to learn the TEI, explore research and pedagogical applications of the TEI to primary source documents, and make the process and contents visible and accessible to a wider community of students, scholars, and archives/library professionals.


Source citation: Diary, Thomas D. Craven papers, BC.2004.121, John J. Burns Library, Boston College, http://hdl.handle.net/2345.2/BC2004_121_ref5.