Many people are surprised to learn that Transkribus is not run by a regular company, but by a cooperative: READ-COOP. That means that it is our members, not investors, that dictate how the organisation is run — after all, they are the people who use our technology every day to make the past accessible for everyone.
Our READ-COOP members range from individuals with a passion for historical manuscripts to universities, research institutes, and libraries. However, in celebration of International Archives Day, we would like to focus today on one particular section of our membership: archives. We are lucky to have several amazing archives as members of our cooperative, so let’s take a quick tour abroad to find out about the fascinating projects these archives carry out with Transkribus.
The Nordic and Baltic Countries
Birth registers, military records, court proceedings: national archives are literally mines of historical information about a country. Each archive is run by a team of people responsible for preserving these enlightening documents and making them accessible to the public. Nowadays, that means digitising them and creating an online database, and many archives have achieved this using READ-COOP technology.
National archives in the Nordic and Baltic countries that are members of READ-COOP include the Kansallisarkisto in Finland, the Arkivverket in Norway, and the Organisation of Danish Archives. Part of our members are also the Riksarkivet in Sweden, as well as the Rahvusarhiiv neighbouring Estonia. All of these archives used Transkribus to help digitise their vast collections of documents, and three — Sweden,Finland and Estonia — have also made their collections public via the read&search platform. That way, researchers and the public can search the entire archive and quickly find the information they need.
As part of the citizen science project RETRO, the Organisation of Danish Archives has also transcribed a large amount of material, mostly municipal documents. They have now made their text recognition model of 19th-century Danish Gothic handwriting available to the public.
Also in the Nordics, there is the archive of the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland, who preserve and promote Swedish-Finnish culture.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg
In the Netherlands, it is common that individual cities and regions run archives of information about the area and the people who have lived there. Many of these city archives are members of READ-COOP, including Utrecht, Amsterdam, North Holland and Groningen. By converting their manuscripts into readable and searchable modern text with Transkribus, these Dutch archives have uncovered some fascinating new pieces of history, not to mention a Rembrandt painting no one even knew had existed!
Among the more recent members is the State Archives of Belgium. Consisting of the National Archives in Brussels and many archival respositories throughout the country, the State Archives of Belgium decided to join READ-COOP with the common mission to make archives more accessible.
Luxembourg may be one of the smallest countries in Europe, but they are also home to an impressively large archive: the Archives Nationales de Luxembourg.
Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
The City Archive of Stockach in Germany also decided to become part of the READ-COOP and to work with Transkribus to recognise handwritten as well as printed documents. In the German-speaking world, however, it is not just governments or municipalities that run archives, but churches too. The diocese of Passau in Germany and St. Pölten in Austria are both READ-COOP members and have extensive archives of church records dating back to the 16th century.
In neighbouring Switzerland, there are two archives that are members of READ-COOP: the State Archive in Zürich and the City Archive in Zug. Along with preserving and digitising historical documents, these two archives also run a host of educational events and tours, including Transkribus workshops.
Our southernmost member in Europe is the Fondazione Banco di Napoli in Naples, Italy. This vast archive holds financial records from various Neapolitan banks from the 16th century onwards, documenting the city’s rise as one of the most important trading posts in Europe.
As part of the Pandetta project, the Fondazione is currently digitising their archives — a monumental task given its size. 190,000 individual records have already been scanned and digitally transcribed, covering the period from 1586 to 1599. So only another 400 years of history to go!
And last but not certainly not least, our final member is the Fundación Bunge y Born, a non-profit organisation based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the areas of interest of the Fundación Bunge y Born is historical documentation and the preservation of cultural heritage. Together with Transkribus and the use of text recognition and digitisation technologies, they are working on a more digital and accessible historical archive.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our members for your continued support and collaboration on our mission to make archives digitally available to everyone!
Want to Become a Member of READ-COOP?
If you are an archivist, a researcher, a historian or anyone else with an interest in digitising and publishing historical documents for the greater good of society, then you might want to consider becoming a member of READ-COOP.
Our cooperative is dedicated to developing technologies that seamlessly open up historical manuscripts and documents. Technologies already in existence include our Transkribus software, ScanTent photo aid, and the Transkribus Sites search platform and we constantly have new ideas and innovations in the pipeline.
READ-COOP is a registered European cooperative that is governed by our members, not finance-focused investors. Our motto is “purpose before profit”. Being a member not only gives you a say in the future of our technologies, but also allows you to use Transkribus at a discounted price and gives you access to privileged information about the organisation.
For more information and to become a member, please visit our member’s page.