A Prince’s Papers: Transcribing Prince Albert's world

Project Description


May 2020: This online workshop is open to Oxford students who wish to expand their understanding of creating digital editions of historical documents.

Arranged over six thematic sessions, this pilot series of online workshops, prepared in collaboration with the Royal Collection, the Royal Archives, and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, will engage participants in transcribing a selection of the Prince’s papers. Meeting remotely and in a social-distancing sensitive manner, participants will be introduced to the fundamentals of creating digital transcriptions and editions, as well as exploring some of the extraordinary documents that have been digitised in the project.

The workshops will revolve around a series of pre-selected materials from the recently launched digital resource, Prince Albert: His Life and Legacy. Participants will work both alone and together to transcribe items from the collection and to present them in digital editions. In doing so, the participants will learn some of the fundamental skills of transcription and editing, including an introduction to a very light digital mark-up for documents using TEI (a widely-used digital text mark-up language, that highlights the semantic structures of text), as well as some of the decision-making and research processes involved in preparing an edition.

This series will appeal particularly to students interested in Victorian studies or to students working with historical documents who are curious about digital humanities. It will provide an opportunity to engage with a set of fascinating materials and, in some of the contact time sessions, experts on those materials from beyond the University. They will further provide an opportunity to gain first or early experience of some of the principles of digital textual scholarship and of digital humanities.

Through this course of workshops, participants will exercise core scholarly and transferable skills including critical thinking, contextual research, palaeography, editorial discretion and documentation. These will be complemented by the introduction of aspects of TEI and digital humanities scholarship in general, providing participants with an initial access point to a growing field alongside skills and ways of thinking that are increasingly in demand both within and beyond scholarship.


The workshops should be viewed as incremental and will combine weekly-released pre-prepared online materials and guidelines for self-guided activity with regular virtual ‘office hours’ for direct contact, troubleshooting, and discussion of the work. Read a brief introduction with information for participants.

Session 1: Transcription, mark-up, edition

An initial set of online resources and contact session will outline some of the basic principles of textual editing and marking up a digital edition. Participants will be walked through creating a transcription and encouraged to try it out for themselves on a simple document.

Session 2: The speeches of the Prince Consort

This session will introduce Prince Albert’s speeches, which give an insight into his wide-ranging interests and association with causes. Participants will share the transcription and editing of a small selection of speeches.

Session 3: The Prince and the Camera

Prince Albert was a keen photographic collector who encouraged the development of the medium, and he was the first member of the British royal family to be photographed in 1842. This session will focus participants on transcribing a selection from the correspondence surrounding his collection.

Session 4: The Prince and the Artist

The Prince’s Raphael Collection was one of the most ambitious art historical projects of its time, engaging with collectors, artists, and photographers around the world. This session will engage participants in transcribing correspondence and other documents relating to one of the Prince’s most substantial but lesser-known projects.

Session 5: The Commission and the Exhibition

Prince Albert is well-remembered today for his engagement with the Exhibition of 1851. In this session, participants will select materials from a range of documents that hint at the diversity of the work involved in the creation of the Exhibition.

Session 6: Free rein

In the final session, participants will be encouraged to seek out a document that interests them, transcribe it, and, in a final office hours session, present it to the rest of the group, pointing to what is interesting, significant, or appealing, about the document, and if they encountered any new challenges in making the transcription.


This pilot workshop series is open to humanities students of the University of Oxford. It will begin with a double workshop (sessions one and two) in the first week of June, after which the contact sessions will take place weekly. If you would like to sign up to attend and participate in the workshop series, please fill in the form below to be emailed with further details soon. Places are very limited, but a waiting list will be maintained.

Register for the Prince's Papers workshop

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