Oamaru Vigilance Committee Minutes transcribed

Vigilance Committee Minutes. Collection of Waitaki Archive 28110

The recent pandemic lockdown has been a challenging event for all of us. At Waitaki Archive we have used this time to explore a digital transcription tool called Transkribus with our dedicated team of volunteers.

Transkribus is a free, easy to use online transcription software produced by the READ project with European Union’s Horizon 2020 funding. The project is focused on making archival material more accessible through the use of cutting-edge technologies.

The core objective of READ is to provide a service platform (http://transkribus.eu) for the automated recognition, transcription and searching of historical documents. Training computers to read handwritten text in this way promises to revolutionize access to the written records of our history.

Archive volunteers have piloted the transcription of the minutes of the Oamaru Vigilance Committee. The Vigilance Committee was a privately funded organization established in 1861 whose purpose was to watch the business of the Provincial Council and address the needs of the growing town of Oamaru. The first chairman of the committee was Michael Grenfell, the first clerk was John Young Ward.

Image credit: John Young Ward, Collection of the Waitaki District Archive. Id 104748
https://collection.culturewaitaki.org.nz/objects/104748/john-young-ward-clerk-of-Oamaru-town-board-1431863-september-1865

The Vigilance Committee was active from October 1861 until early 1862 and achieved a number of things in its short existence. It facilitates the laying shingle on Tyne and Thames Street, achieved weekly rather than fortnightly delivery of mail, prevented the sale of quarry sites and is said to have taken the first steps towards establishing a school in Ōamaru. The Vigilance Committee’s greatest achievement was contributing to the passing of the Ōamaru Town Board Ordinance 23 December 1862. The Ōamaru Town Board was, in turn, was the forerunner of the Ōamaru Borough Council and the Waitaki District Council.

The Transkribus user interface is quick and easy to use through an internet browser and allows the transcriber to work when and where they want to.

Minutes of the Vigilance Committee

Image credit: Transkribus browser based user interface showing transcription of the Oamaru Vigilance Committee Minutes in progress.

Completed transcriptions are checked by and harvested into our collection management system for future use. Our volunteer staff have enjoyed using this system especially as they have been unable to come in to the Archive during the lockdown period. We plan to continue using Transkribus to engage our volunteer staff and enrich our collections.

If you are interested in helping to transcribe primary documents and finding out more about the rich and varied history of Waitaki, please email us at archive@waitaki.govt.nz.

Chris Meech