Lunch Time Tips from our Transcribathon

By Elaine Leong and Lisa Smith
The Folger transcribers.

The Folger transcribers.


Good morning and Welcome. First, a big shout-out to all participants of the second

annual EMROC transcribathon – Thank you for joining us today. At the Folger, the EMROC team (consisting of both EMROC members, Folger staff members and an enthusiastic group of students from University of North Carolina Charlotte, University ofTexas, Arlington and University of Colorado, Colorado Springs) have been typing away furiously for nearly three hours. We’re also joined by an active group of transcribers from all over the world–our latest statistics indicate that nearly 100 people have already logged-on to help create a transcription of the Castleton recipe book. Many hands make light work. We’re making wonderful progress!
Our big discoveries for the day so far include a thumbprint and layered efficacy marks (a circle with a cross and dots). More on that soon…
But there are a few tips for encoding that you should probably know about.
  1. Don’t forget to include page numbers.
  2. Mark recipe titles as headers (hd).
  3. Mark the layered efficacy marks as ‘cross in circle’ and ‘dot’ using the metamark (mrk).
  4. Remember to save — a lot!
If you’re just joining us, please focus on pages that have had no or only one or two transcribers. See our earlier post from today for tips on finding easy pages or culinary or
medical recipes.
And do tweet us, or post on our Facebook page, if you find anything exciting, or have any questions.

Tips for Transcribing Castleton Today

From Lady Castleton's book, Folger Shakespeare Library, V.a.600.

From Lady Castleton’s book, Folger Shakespeare Library, V.a.600.

We’re so pleased that you’ve decided to join us today. Here are some top tips for transcribing today.

Just go log on at with whatever user name you want to use. The Castleton manuscript has its own folder, so it will appear on the first screen. Just click on Castleton and you’ll be in!

Trying to figure out where to start? Begin with pages that have 0 people in the “started” columns, then move to those with 1 or 2 if there are none with zeros.

Do you want to focus on food or medicine? The beginning pages have a high concentration of medicinal recipes; the ones toward the back are culinary.

Are you beginner, intermediate, or expert? If you’re a beginner, the first part and last part of the manuscript are in a nice, easy hand. The following pages, however, are more difficult and dense, if you are looking for a challenge: 91-92, 107-108, 109-110, 111-112, 171-172, 173-174 and 175-76.

Pages to avoid? Page images 179-228 are blank; no need to go to them. The following will be specially reserved for Sprint events: please do them only if you are participating in that event: 132, 40-41 at 11am and 1pm ET respectively.

What if you find an upside down page…? If you get a page that appears upside down, Dromio has a Rotate button, near Zoom, at the top left hand corner.

We’ll be tweeting more tips and answering questions throughout the day at @EMRecipesOnline, using Twitter hashtag  #Transcribathon and posting on our Facebook page.

Announcing… Our 2nd Annual Transcribathon!

Folger Shakespeare Library, V.a.600.

Folger Shakespeare Library, V.a.600.

Calling all transcribers!

Last October, we hosted our first ever transcribathon. It was so much fun and such a success that we’ve decided to do it all again. We’d like to invite you to join us.

  • Date? 9 November 2016
  • Time? Any time! (But EMROC will be working from 9:00-17:00 EST.)
  • Place? Anywhere! You can join in virtually from anywhere in the world at any time.
  • What to bring? Interest–and an internet connection.
  • Experience? None is necessary! We have instructions and will post a video nearer the time.

This year we’ll be working on the recipe book of Lady Grace Castleton, which contains directions for making everything from medicine to desserts to wine. You’ll get to learn about early modern cooking and health care – and catch glimpses of the era’s shopping and gardening habits – as you make searchable text for others to use.

We will have transcription groups working at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Essex, the University of Akron, the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the University of Texas, Arlington, with individuals coming and going virtually throughout the day.

Along the way, you will virtually meet scholars from around the world, have the opportunity to participate in a series of transcription sprints, and emerge from the day with a line for your CV—all from your own home, classroom, or office!

And remember, there is NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY – we’ll walk you through the coding and offer pointers on the handwriting.

If you’d like to join, either as an individual or a group, please contact me as the main point person for the virtual transcribathon.

  • Twitter @historybeagle
  • Email

And even if you don’t want to transcribe, you can still join the fun in other ways: follow us on Twitter @EMRecipesOnline and #transcribathon or read blog posts from on this site.

The 1st Annual EMPS Transcribathon


Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 1.30.15 PM

The officers of the Early Modern Paleography Society at UNC Charlotte have been (very) busily preparing for our first annual EMPS Transcribathon!

The Transcribathon will take place on Friday, April 8th, 2016 from 10 am – 3 pm EDT. Our main headquarters will be on the campus of UNC Charlotte, in the Student Union rooms 340C&F, but if you can’t make it to Charlotte, we’d love for you to participate remotely! As of right now, we have transcribers planning to participate both nationally and internationally – from Colorado Springs to Berlin!

Our main goal is to completely transcribe an anonymous 18th century manuscript recipe book that the Folger has set aside for us. We’ll need all the help we can get, so we welcome all participation, whether it’s for the entire day or just half an hour.

We also have various activities planned throughout the day to attract potential new transcribers: there will be games, transcription sprints, and prizes, as well as a panel discussion about the importance of transcription, early modern recipes, and what it’s like to grow ingredients and cook from the recipes we transcribe (among other topics) with panelists from UNC Charlotte, UC Colorado Springs, and UNC Chapel Hill. We’ll also have plenty of coffee and snacks throughout the day and will be meeting afterwards for a wine social at the Wine Vault across the street from campus.

In preparation for the event, our university greenhouse grew angelica, seen below in its abundance:


And we got together to candy the angelica for the event, so if you come, you’ll be able to taste:



If you have any questions or would like to circulate our flyer to your contacts who might like to participate, feel free to send me an email:

You can also stay up-to-date on the happenings by “liking” our page on Facebook ( and following us on Twitter (@empsociety)! Or, for the event, you can use #empstranscribathon2016.

This is How My Grandmother Cooks: Manuscript Recipes in the Composition Classroom

By Samantha Snivley

This past summer, the relationship between early modern recipes and teaching undergraduates was on everyone’s mind at the “Teaching Early Modern Recipes in the Digital Age” workshop at Attending to Early Modern Women. How could we bring manuscript receipt collections into our classrooms, and what could students learn from them?

Manuscript recipes raise questions of form, genre, and purpose, and these questions are key to undergraduate writers’ development of academic writing skills. Most of the ideas proposed in June were intended for literature or history courses, but as a graduate student teaching a standardized composition syllabus, I wanted to know: What could manuscript recipes teach an introductory composition course about writing?

I ran the experiment this winter in my UWP001: Expository Writing class, and it turns out that manuscript recipes are perfect texts to think with in a composition classroom. I incorporated selected manuscript recipes into a unit on rhetorical analysis, and a day on “Genre” seemed most germane for my class to discuss the ways that manuscript recipes intricately combine genre and form with audience concerns. I wanted my students to realize that formal, generic, and linguistic choices are vital to constructing rhetorical messages.

I used two recipes from the Wellcome Library’s digital collections: a recipe for “biskett bread” from the 1686 recipe book of Elizabeth Godfrey & others (MS 2535, folio 14) and a recipe for “ginger bread cake” from the 1699 manuscript of Edward & Katharine Kidder (MS3107, folios 19 and 20). I paired this with a recipe for “French Bread” from Hannah Woolley’s 1672 The Exact Cook (142).


However, it would be cruel to make a group of undergrads read 17th-century handwriting, so I transcribed the manuscripts for our discussion. I then asked my students: Based on these texts, what are the formal conventions of a recipe? How does the genre change over time, or among rhetorical situations? And what do these genre conventions suggest about audience expectations and expertise?

My students were bemused by the diction, phrasing, and imprecision of the 17th-century recipes, but quickly inferred audience expectations from the genre conventions they observed. They noted that the form of a manuscript recipe required a variety of literacies in its audiences, and from there were argued that manuscript recipes also assumed a body of experiential knowledge acquired prior to reading the recipe.[1] We then discussed the reciprocity of this relationship: if you can infer qualities about the audience from a text, how might a writer use genre conventions to interact with their audience?

At first, my students had some difficulty articulating the complex way that recipes both required and contributed to a shared culture of experiential knowledge. They found the injunction in Woolley’s recipe to “let not your Oven be too hot,” odd in a text intended to teach its audience a new skill. However, they were able to navigate this question by retracing these ideas through their own experiences interacting with recipes. A number of students noted that “this sounds like the way my grandmother describes her recipes/makes her food,” and we discussed the way that genres function as a contract between writer and reader.

Using recipes to think about the ways an audience for a piece of rhetoric is partially determined by form was a productive exercise for my composition students. Not only were they able to watch a genre develop and change over time—thereby realizing the social nature of written genres—they were also able to think about their own abilities to control and work with genre conventions to further their own rhetorical message.

Samantha Snively, Graduate Student, University of California, Davis

Works Cited

[1] Wendy Wall describes this as “kitchen literacy” in “Literacy and the Domestic Arts.” Huntington Library Quarterly 73.3 (2010): 383-412.