A screenshot of Jane Austen's letter to her sister Cassandra on the right-hand side of the screen. The handwritten text correction panel is showing on the left-hand side.
Jane Austen’s handwritten letter to her sister Cassandra (dated 11 June 1799) is one of the items now available for text correction, thanks to technology that converts handwriting into text in Trove, nla.gov.au/nla.obj-229629481

National Library releases handwritten text recognition

Unlocking the words of Captain Cook, Jane Austen, Banjo Patterson and other famous and everyday people is now possible thanks to technology that converts handwriting into text in Trove.

The National Library has successfully tested this new technology with 10,000 digitised handwritten documents. This includes the personal papers of former Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies, General Sir John Monash, the first two women elected to the Australian federal parliament: Dame Enid Lyons and Dame Dorothy Tangney as well as papers of everyday Australians which are part of the Australian Joint Copyright Project (AJCP).

Director-General of the National Library of Australia, Dr Marie-Louise Ayres FAHA, said ‘It has been my dream to open up our unique collections of handwritten documents to all Australians, so they can get closer to the words of both famous and everyday people. This technology, together with our digitisation program, makes this possible, and I hope many people will be inspired by the potential to closely read, absorb and transcribe their words’.

Since 2009, tens of thousands of Australians have used similar technology to correct the text from Australian newspapers, unlocking Australian history and finding new stories from our past. The National Library has not been able to do this for handwritten documents until now.

Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) converts handwritten images of typed or printed text into an editable and searchable transcription. You can then search by keywords as well as by the title and description of an item.

Over time, the National Library will be applying this technology to other manuscript collections already digitised and made available on Trove.

Media contact

Georgia McDonald, Media Liaison, National Library of Australia

M: 0401 226 697

E: media@nla.gov.au