Call for Volunteers: Dickens Journals Online

full name / name of organization: 
University of Buckingham

In six months' time, Britain will celebrate the bicentenary of arguably its greatest writer after Shakespeare, Charles Dickens (born 7th February 1812).

A huge swathe of Dickens's work as a writer, reporter, and magazine editor is embodied in the two weekly journals he edited for over twenty years, and in which he published hundreds of articles as well as some of his best known (and most widely studied) serial novels: Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. The rest of the contents – which were published anonymously – he helped commission, plan and meticulously copy-edit, from offices in Wellington Street, Covent Garden. A blue plaque opposite the Lyceum Theatre commemorates the spot.

Amazingly, the two journals—Household Words and All the Year Round—have never been republished or indexed in an integral form, although they remain a treasure trove of great writing and part of the national patrimony that deserves to be better known. To this end, an open-access digital edition, giving authorship details from two out-of-print standalone indexes, as well as new attributions, scholarly and educational materials, has been under development for the past 5 years, funded by the international Dickens Fellowship, The Leverhulme Trust, the University of Buckingham, and many individual supporters. The site shows over 30,000 pages of vintage Victorian journalism as digital images, together with a legible machine-read transcription, produced by the process known as 'OCR.' However, inevitably, there is a sprinkling of mistakes on each page (5 to 25), so in order to unlock the full potential of the data, these mistakes are being removed by a team of volunteer 'sub editors.' Since January of this year, correction work on 15% of the archive has been undertaken or completed to a high degree of accuracy.

We would like to invite and encourage students and colleagues to join in this process. It is simple, absorbing, instructive—and only occasionally frustrating! Changes are saved direct to the database, and volunteers can choose to have their work acknowledged, or kept anonymous. A Team Progress chart and Leader Board tracks the collective effort. There are FAQs, a Glossary, and an online editing tutorial. With just a little more help the work can easily be completed in time for the bicentenary celebrations of Britain's most popular and socially aware writer. Simply log on to to create an editing account.