One day, 2000 records!

We’re excited to announce that we’re taking part in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine’s ‘Transcription Tuesday’ event!

On a single day, we’re going to be working together – with your help – to transcribe the entire contents of a volume of trade union records, full of details about worker accidents. It’s going to be intense – we think there are around 2,150 cases in the volume, a lot to do in just one day.

So, set the date in your diary: Tuesday 5 February.

We’d love you to get involved – it’ll only be with your help that we can complete this. You’ll find all the details you need on this page on our website.

Trade union ledger detailing accident & legal cases they were involved in on behalf of railway worker members.
First page of the volume (in low resolution). Courtesy Modern Records Centre.

The idea behind ‘Transcription Tuesday’ is that anyone (not necessarily family historians, railway historians or Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine readers) and everyone is encouraged to help out on a single day with projects involving some element of transcription. In our case, this means converting the handwriting from images of original documents into typed text in a database. It means that the records become more useable, for a worldwide audience.

We’re thrilled that Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine chose us as one of the projects they’re championing – it’s a huge opportunity to involve people from across the world and who might not already have heard about our work. The results will – after we’ve checked for accuracy – of course be freely available from our website, joining the existing 4,500 or so records and the 60,000 or so cases over the coming years.

The volume we’ve selected for transcription was put together between 1901 and 1905 by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS), the main trade union covering all grades of railway work. The ASRS became, via a merger, the National Union of Railwaymen in 1913, and is now known as the RMT. The volume is now held by project partners, the Modern Records Centre  at the University of Warwick. It recorded events in which the union had an interest and the outcome – including in some cases the impact on the families left behind.

That includes, for example, the case of J Hallams, a track worker who was hit by a train and killed on 7 January 1901 at Thackley in Yorkshire, leaving a widow and four children. They were granted £234.11.2 in compensation (around £24,100 today), of which £98.11.2 was to be paid to the widow and the rest in quarterly instalments until the youngest child was 14. A later note recorded that the mother had died and payments were transferred to an aunt.

The volume is full of all sorts of detail about life on the railways at the start of the 20th century and will make for fascinating work – as well as being a great help to family historians, railway historians and many more researchers.

This is a really great chance for everyone to get involved – and if it goes well, it may be that we can extend the remote methodology to other material in the future! So, please join us on 5 February and help us uncover the cases in this volume.

We’ll be tweeting (@RWLDproject) throughout the day, and we’ll keep you posted as soon as possible after the event about how it went.

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