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Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces

3 September 2013

Thousands of volunteers are being sought to help transcribe historic archives in the largest crowdsourcing project of its kind in Scotland.

They are being asked to help transcribe information in more than 150,000 pages of historic archives dating from 1645 to 1880 - reading old handwriting, identifying local places and pinpointing people in Scotland’s history. There are more than 1 million records, written in Scots, English and Gaelic that cover land taxation; taxes clocks, watches, windows and farm horses; and Ordnance Survey “name books”, which formed the first official record of Scottish places and place names.

More than 50 talks and workshops will be held across Scotland over the next 12 months to get people involved and trained in using the innovative online system. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces is a unique project in the archive world in Scotland and one of the first of its kind in the UK.

The information uncovered by the volunteers will help to increase knowledge and understanding about Scotland’s history. Their transcriptions will be added to a treasure trove of historical information on the ScotlandsPlaces website,, which brings together records from three of Scotland’s national collections:  RCAHMS, the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the National Library of Scotland (NLS).

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said, “Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces is an exciting project that will undoubtedly catch the public’s imagination. It will celebrate our long history in archiving and ensure these precious records become more accessible for everyone. I would urge as many people as possible to volunteer for this unique project and contribute to unlocking the secrets of Scotland’s past and improve our understanding of our history.”

Speaking on behalf of the project partners, Andrew Nicoll, RCAHMS Outreach Officer said, “These records touch the lives of everyone from the famous figures of Scotland’s past, to the ordinary man and woman in the street. The potential of what we may find is incredibly exciting. And anyone, anywhere in the world, with access to the internet can get involved.

Local and family historians, historical geographers, history societies and researchers can use the resources for their research and can also be part of creating further content. By getting involved in the transcription project, they’ll have access to more than 1 million records of people and places. While some content on the ScotlandsPlaces website is only accessible via paid subscription, anyone who takes part in the transcribing project will be given full free access to all resources.

For more information go to Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces or email