In celebration of our Garden Stories event, we've released some of our seed catalogs for transcription as part of our Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded Purposeful Gaming project. Seed catalogs are notoriously difficult subjects for Optical Character Recognition software (OCR) to parse (which produces searchable text files of digitized images), so searching the text of online vintage seed catalogs is often problematic. The picturesque fonts and elaborate page layouts so endearingly characteristic of seed catalogs cause the resulting OCR output to be error prone and less than optimal...at least up to now.
You can help us improve access to these valuable gardening resources by transcribing seed and nursery catalogs. Here's a helpful tutorial to get you started!
A selection of catalogs digitized by The New York Botanical Garden as part of the Purposeful Gaming project were chosen for inclusion in our transcription sites because they contain text over/interspersed with images, difficult formatting, and hard-to-read scientific names. Selections include:
- Choice flower seeds 1908. Reason chosen: Numerous illustrations interspersed with text; OCR had difficulty rendering scientific names
|Choice Flower Seeds 1908. White, Emma V. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/46685913.|
- Choice flower seeds 1914. Reason chosen: Some examples of text over illustrations, numerous illustrations interspersed with text
|Choice Flower Seeds 1914. White, Emma V. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/46685858.|
- Retail price list of California bulbs (1917). Reason chosen: Example of text over illustration; OCR had difficulty rendering scientific names
|1917 Hardy Perennials for California Gardens. Purdy, Carl. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/46307126.|
- Wholesale list of the F.&F. Nurseries (no.5 General Catalogue). Reason chosen: Example of text over illustration; difficult formatting for scientific name resolution -- see pg. 31+
|Wholesale List of the F.&F. Nurseries. no. 5 (1882). http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/46210243.|
- Floral gems (1922 Year Book). Reason chosen: Example of text over illustration; many scientific names
|1922 Year Book: Floral Gems. McGregor Bros. Co. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/46112924.|
Help us improve access to these lovely seed and nursery catalogs by transcribing them. Share your discoveries with us by commenting on this post or posting on Twitter or Facebook with #BHLinbloom!
More Garden Stories Fun
- Follow our blog and #BHLinbloom on Twitter and Facebook (or go directly to BHL’s Twitter and Facebook) this week as we explore the fascinating world of gardening, from its history to plant factoids and practical gardening tips.
- Browse over 14,000 seed and nursery catalogs in our collection.
- Enjoy thousands of seed catalog images in our Flickr collection and a selection of our favorites, as well as fun seed catalog art-inspired promotional materials, on Pinterest.
- See historic gardening come to life on the Smithsonian Libraries’ Tumblr.
- Purchase your very own Garden Stories T-Shirt through T-Fund. All proceeds will go to help us digitize more pages for BHL. Our goal is to sell enough shirts to digitized 5,000 pages. Can you help us get there?
- Find great online gardening resources, tips, and help on the BHL Gardening Resources Page.