Molly Kerr / Digital Humanities Program Manager
Kevin Gushman began transcribing in 2012. I’ve enjoyed working with her because of her background in words and she has helped me find the definitions to some of the more obscure ones. Working electronically means you don’t always get a sense of who someone is: I have especially enjoyed Kevin’s sense of humor as it shines brightly in all her correspondence and she is a pleasure to work with!
When I asked her to answer a few questions about her experience volunteering with us, here are her responses.
What interested you in the Glassford & Henderson Transcription Project? How did you hear about it? Why did you want to be involved?
I’ve been a member of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia for several years and have volunteered in the lab. The transcription project was announced in a meeting of the NVC-ASV and I thought it sounded really interesting and a lot of fun.
What is your background? How has this project been different from or complimentary to what you have done (do) as your career?
I taught middle school reading for 5 years and high school English and Latin for 30 years and retired in July 2012. I still meet weekly with a group which translates the works of Latin authors and read them aloud “as though they were English”. Sometimes we find that work very easy and other times it is almost impossible. That’s how I would describe transcription and teaching as well.
What has been the most challenging part about transcribing?
Adjusting to the different alphabets and to the different patterns of the storekeepers.
What has been the most interesting thing you have learned?
I’ve always loved Mt. Vernon and reading these ledgers has increased that love and when the ASV meetings feature updates on the dig at Colchester, I can really see the buckles, “potts”, and pewter that are in the ledgers.
Do you have a favorite account? Whose was it? Why did you like it?
I like the Alexander Henderson pages because his were the first ones that finally made sense to me and because he was so young to have this much responsibility.
When you tell people what you are doing, what do you like to share about the project? What has been the reaction?
Most of my friends know that I love crossword and jigsaw puzzles and they all think that Latin is just one big puzzle so they see this as another way for me to enjoy puzzles and to visit the history of the 1700s.
Would you recommend the project to other people? Why?
Yes, but I would warn them that they will get hooked on the ledgers and start thinking of these shoppers as old friends.
Anything else you would like to share…?
I couldn’t have done one thing on this project without Molly Kerr’s eternal patience and wisdom. This is a huge effort involving many people and it takes someone who is patient and understands that we transcribers don’t think in terms of shillings, silver, gold or tobacco weights when we go shopping!