OCR and linking of MEG inventories

Create a program to read and transcribe the handwritten MEG inventories and link the corresponding pages to the database


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The first inventories of the collection of MEG are old handwritten inventory books. These books contain some very important information regarding the objects and their provenance. Not only do they inform about the date at which the object was collected or about the name of the person who collected it. They also provide sometimes some very useful contextualizing information about the biography of the object. Plus, they show how the objects were used by European institutions to produce colonial knowledge on colonized people and their material heritage.

The information provided by these documents hasn’t always been transferred to the digital database. Thus, curators and researchers spend a lot of time searching the old inventories to potentially find some more information on the objects they’re working on. Such a program would be really helpful for all (provenance) research to be done in the future on the MEG objects.

Traces of colonial knowledge production

The City of Geneva's ethnography collection was brought together in 1901 in a single exhibition site, which became the Musée d'ethnographie. The collection is made up of several collections from different public and private museums, including the Musée des missions and the Musée archéologique. These collections are described in original handwritten inventories, with specific numbering. When the Musée d'ethnographie was created, a new inventory grouping together the various collections was handwritten until 1973. Between 1973 and 1993, the continuation of this register was typed. At the same time, to facilitate consultation and protect the handwritten registers, the entire MEG inventory register (1901-1971) was also typed. The paper registers were subsequently replaced by computerised systems.


The inventory entry of the object ETHAF 034815, Victory at the Battle of Adwa (1896) is linked with two inventory book (see bottom of the inventory page).


The first inventory Copie dactylographiée en 13 volumes de l'Inventaire original MEG manuscrit (which is a typed copy of the other one) was digitized with an OCR system. So, in this case, it was possible to link the exact page of the inventory related to this object.

When you click on the link, you access the corresponding inventory entry:


The handwritten inventories however wasn't yet digitized with an OCR system. Thus, the link leads to the whole handwritten inventory book.


Instead of leading to the whole inventory book, we'd like the link to lead to the corresponding page of the inventory:


The idea of this challenge would thus be

  • to create a program to read and transcribe the handwritten MEG inventories
  • to link the page containing an inventory entry with the corresponding object page in the museum database.

One problem case to be faced during the challenge: The inventory sheet of the number 025988 extends overs five pages of the register. (See inventory book number 11, page 12. Inventorybook 11 pp 12.JPG

Event finished

30.09.2023 15:30

Edited content version 22

29.09.2023 12:21 ~ marina_berazategui

Joined the team

29.09.2023 11:47 ~ Hugo

Event started

29.09.2023 09:00


28.09.2023 15:38

Edited content version 19

28.09.2023 15:38 ~ gaston

Edited content version 17

26.09.2023 11:17 ~ marina_berazategui

Edited content version 16

26.09.2023 11:14 ~ marina_berazategui

Joined the team

19.09.2023 13:51 ~ timtom

Edited content version 15

22.08.2023 14:01 ~ liowalter

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22.08.2023 13:51 ~ liowalter

Edited content version 14

24.07.2023 12:02 ~ marina_berazategui

Edited content version 12

21.07.2023 08:30 ~ marina_berazategui

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21.07.2023 08:29 ~ marina_berazategui

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21.07.2023 08:28 ~ marina_berazategui

Edited content version 6

20.07.2023 18:46 ~ marina_berazategui

Edited content version 4

20.07.2023 17:16 ~ marina_berazategui

Joined the team

20.07.2023 06:48 ~ marina_berazategui

Challenge posted

20.07.2023 06:48 ~ marina_berazategui
Contributed 4 months ago by marina_berazategui for GLAMhack 2023
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