THE Museum of Perth is celebrating after its volunteers passed a significant milestone in editing one of the nation’s most important online history databases.
The Trove database is run by the National Library of Australia and contains over 584 million old newspapers, diaries, letters, artworks and other resources.
Text recognition software helps make the database searchable, but often the originals aren’t in the best condition which can leave the resulting documents scrambled.
This is where volunteers like the Museum of Perth’s step in, editing the text to fix up mistakes or update archaic language and spelling.
When the Voice visits on a Tuesday afternoon, almost 50 heads are bent over keyboards and fingers tap quietly away in the historic Atlas Building on The Esplanade.
Executive director Reece Harley is beaming because his volunteers – many fulfilling their Centrelink requirements – recently notched up their two millionth line edit.
While anyone can log on and do text corrections, Mr Harley said his volunteers tend to have a keen interest in the history of Perth.
They enjoy researching the history of iconic buildings in the city as well as memorable events and “articles about early Aboriginal history”.
Newspapers get the most attention.
“Before the internet existed, newspapers were the main source of information,” he says.
“It used to be the bible – if it wasn’t in the paper it didn’t exist.”
With the rise of social media and the decline in print newspapers, Mr Harley said it was critical that such a database exists.
The Museum of Perth is currently exhibiting Reg Walters – An Artist at War, a collection of posters that depicts WWI through an artist’s lens.
Next month the museum opens Death and Disorder on the Swan, an exhibition that draws attention to the bodies of victims who have been shockingly dumped in the Swan River over the years.
by WADE ZAGLAS