Introduction by open methods guest editors (DH2023, Graz) Josie Bready, Ahac Meden, Tine Reeh
Paleography is always a difficult skill to learn, especially when trying to teach oneself. It requires a mastery of the target language, but also knowledge of handwritten scripts, which vary greatly. Without a visual guide, it can be hard to identify words or even individual letters.
The Spanish Paleography (http://spanishpaleographytool.org) tool helps to bridge this gap for those interested in learning paleography of the early modern Spanish period, covering the late 15th to the 18th centuries. The tool is intended to allow users to learn how to decipher and read handwriting from documents of this era. Full transcriptions of the documents can be viewed in a facing-page format, or users can highlight individual words. This tool could be used as a teaching tool to introduce students to paleography.
The available documents are archival sources from La Española (modern day Dominican Republic). Some of these scripts were found across the Spanish world, allowing scholars of other regions to utilize this tool. Alphabets of the scripts can be downloaded for use with documents in the same handwriting styles.
The tool was developed by a team at City University of New York and first launched in March 2013. However, it seems that this project is not being updated which points to a broader DH problem, rooted in funding. The tool exists as an archival website, on which the interface provides a user-friendly and intuitive didactic approach of learning about Spanish from a specific time period and geographical space, but many of the possible explanatory categories of texts remain empty. As such it gives an impression that work on this has stopped, not because it has been completed (as for instance detailed translations of canonical texts in Slovenian https://nl.ijs.si/e-zrc/bs/index-en.html), but rather because of a lack of continuing institutional funding. Similar unfinished archival DH projects can be found abound, and one only has to look at projects on the EADH website.
The Spanish Paleography Digital Teaching and Learning Tool is an online interactive resource to assist users in the learning of the deciphering and reading of manuscripts written in Spanish during the early modern period, roughly from the late 15th to the 18th century.Source http://spanishpaleographytool.org/
Original content: http://spanishpaleographytool.org/