BYU students use technology to transcribe Wilford Woodruff documents


A group of 4 Brigham Young College college students is doing work on a exclusive undertaking for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Basis.

“We’re functioning on a thing that, to my know-how, has not been carried out in advance of,” mentioned Bryce Lunceford, one of the learners.

The team — Lunceford, Amber Oldroyd, Paul Smith and Nathan Christiansen, all part of BYU’s used and computational math program — are employing pcs to help guide people transcribing the writings of early Latter-day Saint chief Wilford Woodruff.

What is the Wilford Woodruff Papers job?

Wilford Woodruff was a single of the earliest and most effective missionaries of the restored Latter-working day Saint faith. He served 7 missions that spanned a lot more than 10 years in advance of getting the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Setting up in 1828, Woodruff’s meticulous documents doc his in depth ministry and missionary company, the teachings of Joseph Smith and other leaders, every day happenings, his witness of the church’s Restoration and other important occasions till his loss of life in 1898.

The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation is functioning in cooperation with the Wilford Woodruff Loved ones Association and with the Church History Division to track down and digitize all of the early church leader’s surviving information. 

The basis has located, digitized and organized additional than 114,000 webpages of President Woodruff’s writings because the undertaking was launched on March 1, 2020, with thousands of paperwork nonetheless to go.

How computers are transcribing Woodruff paperwork

To accurately transcribe and confirm Woodruff’s tens of 1000’s of documents would acquire hundreds of hours and call for thousands and thousands of bucks. The pupils hope to assistance use computer systems to finish the endeavor in just 10 a long time, in accordance to a Wilford Woodruff Papers Basis news release.

“Wilford Woodruff recorded his eyewitness account of the Restoration of the gospel in his journal and other paperwork using not only English prepared in longhand, but also two types of shorthand, the Deseret Alphabet, sporadic Latin and Greek and extra than 3,000 exclusive symbols,” the information launch said. “The techniques required to ascertain whether a curve and dot on a site is a cursive letter, a shorthand mark or a image is brain-boggling.”

The latest transcription process involves one particular man or woman to manually variety just about every term as study in the handwritten edition, then two folks assessment it.

The team of four BYU college students is working to generate an algorithm for the pc to differentiate and browse the marks in Woodruff’s documents. The group is also employing optical character recognition, a typically employed approach of converting typed or handwritten paperwork into textual content.

At the time transcribed, the group assessments the computer’s performance and tends to make changes to improve efficiency.

“We check out the network as it’s education and one thing termed the misplaced function basically tells us how very good the computer is at what we told it to do,” Lunceford claimed. “As we see the loss go down, that implies the computer system is getting improved.”

Transcribing technological know-how in the upcoming

It’s an arduous method with some trial and mistake, but the workforce is optimistic that it will save time and means in the lengthy run. The know-how could also be applied to other historic papers initiatives.

“It requires a ton of time to instruct volunteers the abilities that are required to transcribe and if the pc can do the factors that are currently getting accomplished by volunteers, then the transcription can be finished a good deal faster,” Christiansen mentioned.

The job has not only added to the students’ qualified practical experience but it has strengthened their religion.

Oldroyd has been motivated by Woodruff’s journals and is maintaining just one for her future posterity.

Learn a lot more about the Wilford Woodruff Papers undertaking by visiting


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