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+ Widecombe Parish Devon UK: Investigating Local Welfare Provision

This project was set up to investigate the local parish records of Devon, some of which date back to the 16th century but the majority of which are 18 and 19th century. These records are largely about the raising of local taxes and then spending the money raised for the upkeep of the church and the welfare of the poor. Providing for the poor has been a legal requirement in the UK since the time of Elizabeth the First and this was managed locally long before any idea of a ‘welfare state’ was born. The records had been digitised (scanned and catalogued) as a result of a previous project and this way several thousand digital images with search facilities have become available.

Many stories were hidden within these records and Roger Claxton had been able to put together a book that picks out some of these stories and includes many illustrations taken from the documents together with the transcriptions. Some details of this book can be found at

He used Transkribus to create a workflow for the control and transcription of a considerable number of these documents. This workflow and the handwriting models generated can be used again in the future. The writing is fairly typical of the 18th and 19th centuries.

That’s what Roger Claxton says about his work with Transkribus:

“I found Transkribus provided a good structure within which to work both when building up a test set of transcribed documents (by manually entering the transcriptions) and when using Transkribus to transcribe for me once I had a suitable model. It was not perfect but then I would not expect it to be.

The documents were not especially difficult to transcribe but having a framework within which to operate helped enormously. Having the documents available with the tools to view them together with the transcription, which can be worked on, left, and then returned to, helped me keep everything organised.

Once I was happy with the transcription I could copy and paste the transcribed text into my written script.

All in all I have been very pleased to have Transkribus available to use and hope that it can remain available for future use. Thanks to the Transkribus team and to the EU for the support!”


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