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ProQuest Participates in Early Modern OCR Project
ProQuest is participating in a project that will vastly accelerate research of 15th through 17th century cultural history. The company will provide access to page images from the veritable Early English Books Online and newcomer Early European Books to the Early Modern OCR Project (eMOP) at Texas A&M. EMOP will use the content to create a database of typefaces used in the early modern era, train OCR software to read them and then apply crowdsourcing for editing. The project will turn the rich corpus of works from this pivotal historical period into fully searchable digital documents.
eMop is led by Texas A&M professors Laura Mandell, director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC), Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna of Computer Science, and Richard Furuta, director of the Center for the Study of Digital Libraries (CSDL), along with Anton DuPlessis and Todd Samuelson, book historians from Cushing Rare Books Library. The scholars earned a 2-year, $734,000 development grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the work. ProQuest is one of a variety of participating publishers and software organizations that are collaborating on the project.
“Digitization of the historical archives of the early modern era made this literature far more accessible. Page images provide scholars with unprecedented access to books that previously could have only been viewed in their source library. However, precision search—the ability to use technology to zero in on very specific text—has been hampered by the fact that OCR technology can’t read the peculiarities of early printing,” said Mary Sauer-Games, ProQuest vice-president, publishing. “We’re thrilled to participate in an effort that we feel will drive new levels of historical discovery. We love the application of modern ingenuity to turn these very old archives into works that are as searchable as text that was born digital.”
Sources: ProQuest and eMOP
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