Calling volunteers to help make history!

Leslie, Maud, Nancy, Clyde and friends, Otaki Beach, 1927, 26.12.1927 - 01.1928. Adkin, Leslie, McCredie, Athol. Purchased 1978 with Ellen Eames Collection funds. Te Papa

Leslie, Maud, Nancy, Clyde and friends, Otaki Beach, 1927, 26.12.1927 – 01.1928. Adkin, Leslie, McCredie, Athol. Purchased 1978 with Ellen Eames Collection funds. Te Papa

Te Papa holds 41 diaries and nearly 7000 negatives and prints from Horowhenua farmer, photographer, tramper, geologist, archaeologist, ethnologist, son, brother, husband and father George Leslie Adkin.

He wrote his diary daily for all 60 years of his adult life, from 1905 to 1964.


Help transcribe Leslie Adkin’s diaries

This summer, we are running a small pilot project, inviting volunteers to help us transcribe Leslie Adkin’s diaries.   The transcriptions will make these daily details of New Zealand history easier to search and discover, and will support the Life 100 Years Ago World War I centenary commemoration project, which shares history in “real time” via daily tweets.

We are now inviting volunteers to our pilot transcription workshop, at Te Papa next Friday, 24th January, from 10am til 4pm. We will have a little light lunch, a guest speaker, and a beautiful view of the sea.

Please contact to book your place, and please bring your laptop if you can (let us know if this isn’t possible).

We hope to be ready to invite online volunteers soon, too, so that those who can’t make it on the day of the workshop can still be involved!

7 Responses

  1. Melissa Bryant

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to our pilot project this summer. The results have been excellent.
    20 volunteers have transcribed over 18 months (of hundred-year-old diaries) in the last four weeks (of present-day time) – and our wonderful volunteers are still transcribing more almost every day.
    We especially acknowledge the support of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, of Victoria University, and of Te Takeretanga o Kura hau pō Horowhenua library, culture and community centre (Te Takere), in Leslie Adkin’s home town of Levin – it was great to have their local knowledge and home-team enthusiasm on board.
    We’ll keep supporting our small team of current volunteers, and we’re quietly hoping that over the next few months, we can expand the pilot into an open-invitation crowdsourcing initiative, to transcribe the remaining 55 years of diaries and to provide a valuable model for other organisations and other collections of texts. More updates to come!

  2. Siobhan

    I’ve been transcribing works at the Smithsonian institute and have been wanting instead to contribute to New Zealand. This is the closest project I’ve so far come across however attending a workshop during work time and also during school holidays would be very difficult for me. Truthfully I’m not sure I’d want to spare the time.

    Nor would I want to contact a person to join up to be an on line volunteer. I prefer just signing up online with no contact with a “real person”, which for me would lead to feelings of expectation that I’d do lots of transcribing. I recognise this may be necessary for a pilot project but it is a result of that factor that I’m not volunteering at present.

    Also I do not have a laptop – I do have a computer (which is what I tend to use for my Smithsonian transcribing) but for most of my normal internet access I either use my ipad or android phone. Something to consider when thinking of making this available online.

    I like the fact that transcribing for the Smithsonian is so easy. Once you’ve signed up you can do a sentence when you’ve got a few spare minutes or spend a significant amount of time if you prefer. Weeks can go by without any transcribing happening and there is no pressure. It’s flexible, you can access it when it’s convenient for you, not when it’s convenient for the Smithsonian.

    I’d love it if one of our national museum had a similar system where I could pop in and help contribute when the mood takes me.

    Hope this feedback helps.

    • Melissa Bryant

      Thanks for your feedback Siobhan.

      We love the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers project, too. It’s a great example, and deserves its popularity.

      We had to keep our pilot project small this summer, but ideally, in the future, we’d also like to be able to build on this to allow more people to be involved, and with more flexibility. We’ll post any updates right here on the Te Papa blog!

  3. Melissa Bryant

    Thanks for a great response everyone – we now have LOTS of volunteers!

    We’ll update the blog in a few weeks with the results of our pilot project.

  4. Melissa Bryant

    Thanks to everyone who has responded with offers of help.

    Our workshop next Friday is now full, but we still have a few places left for online volunteers, so do contact me if you are interested, at

  5. Melissa Bryant

    Kia ora rā Don – thanks for your comments and the link to your newsletter library.

    All the diary transcriptions certainly will be made freely available online. You can see the transcriptions which our staff have made, here (so far we’ve transcribed from March 1913 to February 1914 – only 50 years to go!):
    We are also sharing the transcriptions daily via Twitter, as part of the Life 100 Years Ago project:

    It’s great to hear that you’re keen to transcribe online. We should be ready to invite online volunteers any day now – we’ll keep you updated!

    We have passed on your other comments to our Disability Advocate and National Services staff. Thanks for your feedback.

    Noho ora mai rā

  6. Don Picken

    I would be interested in assisting with this project SUBJECT TO it all being available online.
    What a wonderful treasure he has left us.

    I’m wheel chair bound and so attending personally at TePapa is not convenient (you got toilets with raiser seats?) but if you can scan some pages and put them online, then using the 2 screens attached to my PC I could do some typing for you.

    I am the webmaster for the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council and you might like to look at what I have done along similar lines with some of our Members Newsletters – -> What We Do -> Newsletters Library – have a walk through the several “sections” there. If you ask I’ll tell you how we transcribed all that there. Free too.

    I am a big fan of putting heritage stuff online. I wish TePapa supported our small country Museums in a realistic way – ehive is a dog and expensive and TePapa could do a lot more to assist. First throw away your clipboards and high talk.

    Best wishes – will be interesting to hear how the “big day” goes.

    Kind regards


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