Using Speech to Text Software to Transcribe Primary Sources?

by Brett Schulte on December 22, 2012 · 11 comments

This post is really me taking an off the wall idea and bouncing it off of fellow Civil War buffs.  Over at The Siege of Petersburg Online, I’ve got tons of newspaper articles collected which are in PDF or image form.  My challenge is to get those items transcribed for use on my site, either by transcribing myself (happens sometimes), having transcribers do this for me as volunteers (this is going on almost daily), or by some other method.

It’s the “some other method” I’ve been thinking about a LOT lately.  I’d like to take the plunge and purchase voice to text software, probably Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 by Nuance, to literally read old newspaper articles out loud and have the program transcribe them for me.  I have some doubts as to whether or not this is feasible, but some of the reviews lead me to believe this is possible.  More than one person used their Dragon software to actually dictate the reviews, and many are decently lengthy.

So I ask readers, have any of you used Voice Recognition software?  If so, could it be used in the manner I describe above?  Taking it further, have any of you tried to use this software for Civil War purposes?  I’d like to hear anyone’s thoughts who has input on whether or not this might work.  If so, I could do multiple transcriptions a night in about a third of the time it takes to do it the old fashioned way.  My kids go to bed around 8, so I don’t have much “me time” at night.  Anything which improves the time needed to do this would help me tremendously.


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