Ensemble@Yale: Transcribing programs to create a database of theater history

A view of the ProjectBuilder-powered transcription interface of   Ensemble@Yale  .

A view of the ProjectBuilder-powered transcription interface of Ensemble@Yale.

Ensemble@Yale transforms digital images of theatrical programs from nearly a century of Yale’s theater history into a database of semantic relationships. Who has directed Ibsen at Yale? What actors performed in the same play? How did set designers and costumers contribute to productions?

Inspired by foundational work at NYPL Labs, Ensemble@Yale launched on the Scribe platform in 2014 and recently joined the Zooniverse ProjectBuilder community. Transcribers both in and beyond New Haven have already completed the “Department of Drama” period, from 1925-1955, and are currently working on the mid-century “Founding Era” of 1955-1966. The ultimate results could include interactive visualizations of the interconnected nature of the Yale theatrical community.

Current and former librarians in Yale’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, including Francesca Livermore, Lindsay King, and Alex O’Keefe, have been the project leaders from ideation through several generations of technical implementation. In addition, the work of Doug Reside, Curator of the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the NYPL, has been crucial in thinking about these archival documents as a latent source of linked open data.