Transcription Tuesday 2022: Stories of St James’s Burial Ground

Discover how you can help uncover the stories of an 18th century London burial ground on Transcription Tuesday

Stories of St James's Burial Ground Transcription Tuesday

What is Stories of St James’s Burial Ground?

This project is part of a wider archaeological investigation into St James’s Burial Ground, next to Euston Station in London. Over 31,000 burials were carefully excavated by MOLA Headland Infrastructure as part of HS2’s archaeology work between 2018 and 2019. The largest of its kind ever undertaken in the UK, the excavation provided an unprecedented opportunity to understand what it was like to live through a pivotal time in London’s history, when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing.

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With excavations complete, archaeologists now want to combine their findings with details contained in the burial ground records, delving even deeper into the site’s history.

Thousands of burial ledger records, created between 1788 and 1853, have been now digitised. This has created a searchable digital archive, revealing crucial details about the lives of the people buried at St James’s and opening the doors to further research.

How can you help this Transcription Tuesday?

Transcription Tuesday participants are invited to use the project website on Zooniverse to decipher handwritten burial records, logging key details like names, addresses and causes of death. They will join a global team of researchers and world-leading archaeologists, working together to unlock the stories of the burial ground and bringing their own unique and valuable perspectives to the project.

No previous experience is required – just a willingness to learn new computer skills and take a rare glimpse into the past.

1. Go to the Zooniverse homepage.

2. Scroll down to ‘Get started’ and choose a workflow. A workflow is a set of questions which ask you to identify certain information in the pages you will be looking at. For example, you can choose the ‘LOT and PLOT number workflow’ to help our team locate where specific individuals were buried within the cemetery. This is one of the MOST important pieces of information for our archaeologists in their research.

3. This will take you to the page to transcribe. Zoom in and out to answer the questions that appear on the right of the screen.

There is a complete tutorial on our website if you need help and don’t worry if you make mistakes. The page will be checked before it is ‘retired’ from the workflow.

If you need help on the day, you can email communityengagement@mola.org.uk. Within Zooniverse, you can ask questions by pressing TALK to add a comment to the page you are working on and tagging it with @MOLA.

What the archaeologists say:

Robert Hartle, a Senior Archaeologist at MOLA Headland Infrastructure who worked on the excavation, said:

“The people buried in St James’s burial ground include individuals from all walks of life; men, women and children, paupers and nobility, artists and soldiers, inventors and industrialists. But the archaeology is only the beginning. The large number of individuals at St James’s who are identifiable via surviving name plates gives us an unprecedented chance to unlock avenues for further research, to match the physical remains of people and their burials with the historical records of the lives they led.

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“The Stories of St James’s Burial Ground digitisation project is a unique opportunity to make a genuine contribution to our ongoing archaeological research and make connections that will shed new light on ordinary people, all too often forgotten to history.”