Anyone who doubts that extra-curricular humanities programming can draw a crowd should have been at VCU's James Branch Cabell Library last Friday, November 13, where upwards of 100 people—most of them undergraduates—spent the afternoon transcribing seventeenth-century manuscripts for the Folger Shakespeare Library's crowd-sourced and soon-to-be web-accessible Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) project.
As the Folger's Curator of Manuscripts Heather Wolfe reminded us in her opening remarks, the ability to read hand-written historical documents informs how we understand our cultural, social, political, religious, and economic inheritance. Wolfe stressed that manuscripts didn't die out with the rise of printing, Instead, manuscript production flourished. Printed texts were "just the tip of the textual iceberg." What would happen, she asked, if more people could read the manuscripts that are only currently accessible to a select few with special paleography training? What would we be able to learn about our past?Read More