Featured Transcriber: Sandra Butler

Sandra Butler, transcriber
Sandra Butler, transcriber

Sandra Butler is a former student of psychology at Maynooth University and is planning on returning to complete a Masters next year. Sandra is from Kildare and is a single mother of two wonderful daughters. She found out about the project on the volunteer.ie website and thought that it was definitely something that was right up her alley as she can transcribe letters from home and has a deep love of words and written language.

Sandra was our #1 transcriber in September 2016 – she told us about her participation with the project.


I decided to look for some volunteer work and found out about the project on the volunteer.ie website. I have always been a huge fan of word games and puzzles and thought that the project might be really interesting. I didn’t know what to expect but have found the whole process really interesting. It is like being transported into the past. I love the formal letter writing style that has since seemed to disappear with the advent of technological advances.

ather Willie Doyle S.J. to Hugh Doyle, 10 March 1916
Letter from Father Willie Doyle S.J. to Hugh Doyle, 10 March 1916 | Irish Jesuit Archives

I have been drawn mostly to the medicine category. I have some knowledge of medical terminology that I thought might be useful. I have loved the challenge of deciphering some of the hand writing and have been hugely interested to learn more with each letter. One in particular was a letter from a Jesuit priest writing home to Ireland to tell his father about an ordeal he faced trying to get to a church to give communion to the men in his Parish before they went to the trenches. He faced the threat of German shells and persevered to get to the men. Its an amazing insight into the lives of everyday people in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Its fascinating.

I began by taking the first letter at the top on the medicine category and kept going that way. I found they were very similar, typed letters from the Registrar at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Then to break it up I scrolled down looking for different handwritten ones. Some of them are really hard to decipher much as my own handwriting is sometimes. I just find it all really interesting and find that I get engrossed easily and when I look up hours have passed. I have found that working on these letters has given me a peek at the history surrounding the Rising that I knew nothing about and has given me a much deeper interest in the subject that I intend to explore at a much greater depth.


You can follow Sandra on Twitter.

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