Pilot: Handwritten Character Recognition (HCR)

As part of our digitization post production services, ODW has been achieving excellent results processing handwritten materials with Google’s Optical Character Recognition software. For a pilot project, we processed approximately 1120 duplex pages of pre-1910 handwritten Parish registers (births, marriages, deaths, mainly baptisms) digitized from public-use microfilm. Despite the quality of the images (scratched film and high contrast photography) the page images were split, deskewed, cropped and run through the  OCR software for some very rewarding results.

Applying this to our ongoing work with the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO), we processed a recent batch of scrapbooks from the Grace Patterson Branch to provide full text search of the entire contents whether handwritten or typed. For all-in-one projects we will continue to apply the HCR software

Moving forward, we intend to experiment with Microsoft’s Azure HCR support which may be surpassing Google’s project — definitely worth trying to compare some pages! The development of HCR is burgeoning at companies like Google and Microsoft, so we can expect progressively better results over time.