K-State searches for volunteers to transcribe, translate historic cookbooks

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 12:46 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas State University Libraries project is looking for volunteers to transcribe and translate historic cookbooks.

Kansas State University says staff and volunteers with its Libraries' Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections are working to transcribe over 20 manuscript cookbooks to make them available digitally to the public.

According to K-State, the department currently has over 250 cookbook manuscripts dating from the late 1600s to the 21st century from various countries and in a variety of languages such as German, French, Spanish and Hebrew. It said staff and volunteers are using From the Page, which is an online platform often used by universities and historical societies crowdsource transcription of selected digital images from manuscripts. It said the use of the software has been supported by theMorse Department of Special Collection’s Jean F. Caul Access to Cookery endowment. It said the project would not be possible without the software.

“We currently have 21 cookbooks — a total of more than 2,800 pages — available for volunteers to transcribe,” said Roger Adams, cookery collection curator, associate professor and lead on the project. “The collaborative nature of this online project means that anyone in the world can view the cookbooks and help us transcribe and even translate them.”

Adams said that the goal of the cookbook transcription project is to share the wealth of cooking knowledge that K-State has access to with those inside and outside K-State’s community.

According to K-State, Cindy Von Elling, project support staff, contributed to the project by scanning and uploading to the website every single page from the manuscripts.

“There is a lot of satisfaction in putting the cookbooks out there for the world to see and transcribe,” said Von Elling. “While we might not know who created an individual cookbook, their method of creation, organization and the recipes they selected allow us to infer things about their lifestyle and personality.”

K-State said along with Adams and Von Elling, Cliff hight, department head and associate professor, helped to guide the project. It said those with a passion for transcribing or translating documents can help with the project.

Access to the project is available here.

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