Larissa Leiminger (University of Tartu)

How to Build a Zooniverse-Project: Citizen Science for Historic Baltic-German Materials in Estonia

Citizen Science, better known in the Humanities as Crowdsourcing, is a great tool to involve the broader public into scientific research. It opens possibilities to have a playful interaction with research materials and facilitates easy access for users through the online environment. But some researchers in cultural institutions might become discouraged at first thinking of the technical components, programming skills and financial means that building such a project seems to involve. I, therefore, want to introduce the Citizen Science website Zooniverse and their featured module “Build a Project” as a low-resource alternative. I explain the different features and options the website provides on the example of my own project.

During my research, I faced the difficult task of transcribing the manuscript acquisition-catalogue of the Learned Estonian Society. This index was conducted by the many secretaries of this literate Baltic-German society between 1843 to 1910. It therefore includes different handwritings in German Kurrentscript as well as entries in Estonian and Russian. Because of the variety in the material, the long timespan and the volume of this index, I only managed to transcribe half of it on my own. For the analysis and transcription of the rest of the materials I established an online Citizen Science project on the Zooniverse website consisting of three different workflows to involve others in my research and distribute the workload.