NZ Official Yearbooks: 119 Years of Statistical History

Creating a web version of the New Zealand Official Yearbooks back to 1893 was a landmark project for Statistics New Zealand. The Yearbooks are a fascinating window into NZ’s economy and society, stuffed with facts, figures and essays about how we lived, the goods we purchased, what diseases killed us and how many sheep we owned.
NZMS’s expertise in digitising historical publications was called upon to scan 113,000 pages from microfiche and print editions.  The earliest publication was the Statistics of New Munster, New Zealand from 1841-1848 the latest, the Yearbook for 2008.
The conversion of the images to XML was outsourced to partner company Aptara and they transcribed over 83 million, characters by double key entry.
However the final quality assurance and correction came back to us and we reviewed and spellchecked every page.  Were there some errors we missed? -you bet!  But we picked up a lot of the howlers that the software missed e.g
Livestock slaughtered – sheep, lamb, cattle, pies (pigs!)
The Eating Powers of Local Authorities  (Rating!)
For the Yeah ended (Year!)
Census of the Domination of New Zealand  (Dominion!)
And the result?  The Minister of Statistics, Maurice Wilkinson applauded the project as ““a big leap into the digital age” … “The smart technology allows users to search on keywords and simply copy and paste tables of data into software like Excel where they can work with it.