December 3, 2023


Technology and Age

BYU students use technology to transcribe Wilford Woodruff documents

A group of 4 Brigham Youthful College college students is performing on a unique venture for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation.

“We’re performing on anything that, to my expertise, hasn’t been done ahead of,” mentioned Bryce Lunceford, just one of the college students.

The crew — Lunceford, Amber Oldroyd, Paul Smith and Nathan Christiansen, all component of BYU’s used and computational math method — are making use of computer systems to aid assist those people transcribing the writings of early Latter-working day Saint chief Wilford Woodruff.

What is the Wilford Woodruff Papers challenge?

Wilford Woodruff was one of the earliest and most successful missionaries of the restored Latter-day Saint religion. He served 7 missions that spanned more than 10 many years right before getting the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Starting off in 1828, Woodruff’s meticulous data doc his extensive ministry and missionary company, the teachings of Joseph Smith and other leaders, every day happenings, his witness of the church’s Restoration and other substantial gatherings till his death in 1898.

The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation is doing work in cooperation with the Wilford Woodruff Loved ones Association and with the Church History Department to track down and digitize all of the early church leader’s surviving documents. 

The foundation has located, digitized and organized a lot more than 114,000 pages of President Woodruff’s writings because the venture was launched on March 1, 2020, with thousands of paperwork continue to to go.

How desktops are transcribing Woodruff documents

To properly transcribe and validate Woodruff’s tens of countless numbers of documents would acquire 1000’s of hrs and involve tens of millions of bucks. The college students hope to aid use personal computers to entire the process in just 10 decades, in accordance to a Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation information release.

“Wilford Woodruff recorded his eyewitness account of the Restoration of the gospel in his journal and other files working with not only English composed in longhand, but also two varieties of shorthand, the Deseret Alphabet, sporadic Latin and Greek and a lot more than 3,000 one of a kind symbols,” the information release said. “The techniques necessary to identify irrespective of whether a curve and dot on a page is a cursive letter, a shorthand mark or a image is brain-boggling.”

The present transcription method calls for 1 particular person to manually style each and every term as browse in the handwritten edition, then two persons evaluate it.

The staff of four BYU pupils is functioning to build an algorithm for the laptop or computer to differentiate and study the marks in Woodruff’s documents. The crew is also making use of optical character recognition, a commonly employed process of changing typed or handwritten files into textual content.

The moment transcribed, the workforce opinions the computer’s overall performance and can make adjustments to strengthen effectiveness.

“We watch the community as it is training and one thing named the misplaced function generally tells us how great the computer is at what we told it to do,” Lunceford said. “As we see the reduction go down, that implies the laptop is having superior.”

Transcribing technology in the potential

It is an arduous system with some trial and error, but the staff is optimistic that it will help you save time and resources in the extended run. The technological innovation could also be applied to other historical papers jobs.

“It can take a whole lot of time to train volunteers the capabilities that are required to transcribe and if the personal computer can do the factors that are now getting completed by volunteers, then the transcription can be finished a great deal faster,” Christiansen claimed.

The undertaking has not only extra to the students’ specialist practical experience but it has strengthened their faith.

Oldroyd has been motivated by Woodruff’s journals and is trying to keep 1 for her foreseeable future posterity.

Study more about the Wilford Woodruff Papers challenge by browsing