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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

John Muir, journaler

John Muir, the founder of the Sierra club, explorer of Alaskan wilderness, champion of Yosemite park, was a journaler.

The University of the Pacific maintains many of John Muir's papers and has made them accessible by putting the digital images online. They have invited the public to participate as citizen curators and assist with transcribing the journals to make them more accessible.

From the university website:

Word-for-word transcriptions open up many more possibilities for researchers and the general public to find, read, and understand Muir's thoughts as he experienced them. It also facilitates online searching to locate information by specific topics. Volunteers can transcribe an entire journal or even just a single page. Even transcribing one or two pages increases the discoverability for historians, Muir enthusiasts, students, or anyone searching the internet.

I spent the better part of a Friday evening recently trying to decipher two short sentences from Muir.  Between the faded ink and the sprawling script, the challenge was real. I ended up projecting the journal entry I was attempting to transcribe onto a TV screen and lying on the living room floor, looking at it for about 10 minutes. And then, like that, I saw the words.

Most of them, anyway. I thought his journal said "changeabul world" but the professor in charge of the project wrote it as changeful world and on second inspection I would have to agree.

What John wrote on the last page of his journal on a trip to Yellowstone and Columbia Park:

In all our pilgramages through this changeful world whichever betide, in poverty or wealth sickness or health
May we all grow gray in peace & love.
Amen.