Open Call for Letters:
New 1916 Project Is Crowd-Sourcing for History

By Adam Farley, Editorial Assistant
September 27, 2013

Students at Trinity College Dublin’s M.Phil. in Digital Humanities and Culture want your Irish letters, as long as they were written between November 1, 1915 and October 31, 1916. In Ireland’s first crowd-sourced letters project, researchers at TCD are aiming to shed light on what the average citizenry was up to in the six months before and after the 1916 Easter Rising.

The project, Letters of 1916: Creating History, launched today on the Trinity grounds with a public call to see the research in action, bring letters, upload them to the newly-created digital archive, and learn how digital collections work and how such an endeavor is undertaken.

The end-goal of the archive is to juxtapose the official accounts of the event with the personal, which the project’s principal investigator, Associate Professor in Digital Humanities in the School of English Dr. Susan Schreibman, says are often overlooked. “It is these personal stories of hardship and love, great loss and great strength, which tend to be lost in traditional historical accounts. This project is reclaiming these lives for our generation and generations to come, allowing their stories to be heard alongside those that we are more familiar with.”

Over the next three years, researchers will be scanning, uploading, and transcribing the letters they receive in order to document “ordinary life” in Ireland around the time of the Rising. The final project will be an online archive of the letters “created by the public and for the public,” according to TCD’s press release, and aims to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the Rising in a few years.

That gives you plenty of time to dig through your trunks, your attic, your shoeboxes, your desk drawers, to bother your parents, grandparents, siblings or whoever or whatever else might hold your century-old epistles. So long as they were written to, from, or sent within Ireland, you can upload them to the site yourself where a team of transcribers and researchers will include them in the database, no matter the content.

For more information, or to upload letters, you can visit The Letters of 1916: Creating History site here.

For information regarding TCD’s Digital Humanities and Culture initiative, click here.

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