Data Science: Engaging the Rural Diary Archive

Someone using a MacBook Air computer to look at a handwritten document.


By Sydney Pearce 

Rural Ontario has a rich history that has been documented through diaries dating between 1800 and 1960. History professor Catharine Wilson has brought together the writing of more than 200 diarists in the Rural Diary Archive. Volunteers across North America have been transcribing these works online, making them accessible and searchable. As they transcribe, they learn to read old handwritten script, a critical skill for archival and museum work.  

“Besides honouring those who came before us, the project creates a valuable digital repository of first-hand accounts to inspire new research, and invites the public to engage and enjoy the past in new and different ways,” says Wilson.