The first volume of William Upcott’s scrapbook of early aeronautica contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, and illustrations which cover early experiments, adventures, and inventions in flight starting with the Montgolfier brothers. Highlights of the scrapbook include Jean-Pierre Blanchard’s attempts at navigable balloon, the short story The Man in the Moon, and early experiments in parachuting.
And guess what? YOU can help us help anyone who’s interested in early aeronautica find and use this rare material by transcribing it.
The Smithsonian has started a project to solicit the help of digital volunteers to unlock the stories held in our manuscript and image collections. The Libraries has just uploaded this nifty balloon-filled scrapbook for transcribing and we’d love your help.
Why transcribing? Well….when we digitize printed books, we use software to do Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on the text. 80% of the time (more or less) this works pretty well, and the OCR text allows anyone to “search inside the book” to find information. With hand written manuscripts and images there is no software that reliably does this, it has to be done by real live human people. We’d do it ourselves, but we’re trying to get more stuff scanned and on the web.