Internship Week #2: The Soldiers of Florida Databases

This is a screenshot of one of the databases we have so far.

Over this last week, I have been working with my fellow project coordinators on a variety of items relating to the Florida in World War I Project. On Tuesday, two of us gave a presentation in an undergraduate course that will be working with the project, specifically the Soldiers of Florida databases. Originally called the City by City databases, the Soldiers of Florida databases are transcribed Florida service cards from World War I. The cards, which are located on Florida Memory, have only been partially transcribed. Our goal with this portion of the project is to fully transcribe them, all 40,000+ cards. Having these cards transcribed allows for a previously unsearchable primary sources to not only become searchable, but allows for a number of ways to interpret the data. For example, fellow project coordinators and I mapped soldiers’ movements in Orlando during and after the war. While we saw a trend of many staying in Florida during the war, we were also able to visually see that multiple men went overseas. Then, by tracking their companies, we were able to find where they served overseas.

Transcribing the 40,000+ cards will take some time and a lot of help. So far we have the city of Orlando and part of Pensacola complete. The undergraduate course this semester will work to finish transcribing Pensacola, as well as the city of Tampa. Our presentation to the class on Tuesday was a learning experience, not just for the class, but also for myself and my fellow project coordinator. We came across some road bumps with the database, including how to transcribe certain parts of the cards. Our goal is to transcribe word for word the cards, but we also want the database uniform so it is easily searchable. This is where we sometimes run into an issue, as the cards are not all uniform. Date formats differ on the cards, as there was no set system when creating the cards back during the war. The goal was to process as many men (and some women) as possible, so the cards were done quickly. So we have had to make some decisions on how to handle this. We are confident though that everything will be uniform and maintain our goal of transcribing the cards accurately.

I have also been working on the Florida in World War I Project website. We have some items up, but the goal this semester is to populate the site with all the content we have created and that courses that have helped with the project have created. This will of course take some time, as things need to be edited, as well as formatted and coded. The design of the overall website, as well as organization, is something that needs to be worked on as well. The goal is to make the site easily searchable and easily accessible. When visitors come to the website, we do not want visitors to have to dig for information, but find it with ease.

Much of next week will be spent on the website. I also want to work on creating original content for the website as well. But I will have more information on that next week!

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