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Volunteers needed in newspaper archive project to unlock region’s history

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 November 2018

Volunteers are needed to help digitise 150 years of newspaper content in the Archant archive. Picture: Nick Butcher

Volunteers are needed to help digitise 150 years of newspaper content in the Archant archive. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Explore almost 150 years of our region’s history by volunteering in a fascinating new project to digitise this newspaper’s archive.

Archant's newspaper archives will be digitised through the Local Recall project. Picture: ArchantArchant's newspaper archives will be digitised through the Local Recall project. Picture: Archant

Local Recall is a new Google-backed project launched by Archant, publisher of the Eastern Daily Press and its sister papers, which will see news headlines from decades past become available online and through a chatbot.

The ultimate goal is for users to able to ask technology like Amazon’s Alexa things such as: ‘What were the headlines in Norwich the day the Second World War was declared?’ or ‘What else happened on the day Diana died?’

Read more: Archant launches Local Recall project to digitise 150 years of newspaper archives after Google grant

The project is looking for volunteers to help digitise hundreds of thousands of pages of content dating back to 1870, using the newly launched editing suite which has so far checked and enhanced more than 500 articles.

Volunteers are needed to help digitise 150 years of newspaper content in the Archant archive. Picture: Nick ButcherVolunteers are needed to help digitise 150 years of newspaper content in the Archant archive. Picture: Nick Butcher

Volunteers will use the editing suite to search for errors and amend digital copy - all while perusing through the vintage papers and spotting the quirky adverts that lie therein.

Upon completion, the digitised material will be sent to Norwich-based artificial intelligence specialists ubisend, who will give the historic data a voice.

Alex Debecker, chief growth officer and founder of ubisend, said: “Local Recall is a grand project. Archant, ubisend, and Google coming together to turn billions of forgotten words into an interactive experience presents a fun technical challenge.

“At ubisend, we turn data into conversations. In this particular project, we are turning 150 years of old newspaper, over nine million articles, into experiences.

Volunteers are needed to help digitise 150 years of newspaper content in the Archant archive. Picture: Nick ButcherVolunteers are needed to help digitise 150 years of newspaper content in the Archant archive. Picture: Nick Butcher

“Bringing these words to life, and making this project a success with the help of passionate individuals volunteering their time, is humbling and rewarding.”

Archant archive editor Ben Craske added: “The Local Recall Project is exciting because it will transform how we interact with local history and news.

“Users will be able to engage with old newspapers using modern approaches, including chatbots and voice search, as accessible alternatives to a traditional archive visit.

“The project is incredibly innovative and a pleasure to work on.”

To learn more about what life was like for our ancestors and help take our past into the future, register to volunteer at: localrecall.archant.co.uk.

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