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Archive: May 2022 (1 Post)

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

ETL: Searching the Lomax family papers through the magic of crowdsourcing

Posted by: Todd Harvey

"ETL" is a wonderful acronym, a non-word, a nickname for a phrase by which insiders describe a complex process. ETL in the context of digital collections at the Library of Congress is short for "extract, transform, and load." To a curator working with crowdsourced archival material. "ETL" in an email subject line signals the final step in a process by which an archival collection becomes full-text searchable, the gold standard for access to manuscript materials. In this post we look at the ways in which crowdsourced transcriptions add depth to our understanding of our rich fieldwork collections. We look at a variety of materials, including Alan Lomax's trips to collect traditional songs and music in Florida and Haiti. We show how Zora Neale Hurston's fieldwork informed her brilliant novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God," providing excerpts from fieldnotes that comport with descriptions in the novel.