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Grants:PEG/Gerard Meijssen and Michael Everson/Batak

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This submission to the Project and Event Grants Program was funded in the fiscal year 2011-12. This is a grant to an individual.

IMPORTANT: Please do not make changes to this page without the explicit approval of Project and Event Grants Program staff. They will be reverted.

Legal name of chapter or nonchapter group
Grant contact name
Gerard Meijssen
Grant contact username or email
Full project name

Batak, its magic and its historic literature

Amount requested (in USD)
equivalent of 4400,- Euro
Provisional target start date
Provisional completion date

One year after the start

Budget breakdown

  • Creation of a freely licensed font for the Batak script - EUR 4000,-
  • Travel to museums - EUR 400,-

Project scope


Many cultural artefacts in Western museums are not accessible to the people that created these artefacts. One reason is because this material is in a font that is either not encoded in Unicode yet or that does not have a font to write the text in. The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam for instance has a rich collection of content in the Batak language. This language is encoded but there is no font. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate that historic material can become available and enriched once it is available on the Internet.

The WMF GLAM community is completely and utterly devoted to Western stuff and this is a project that will break new grounds.

The font will be created by Michael Everson who defined the script in Unicode. He will ensure that the font will conform to standards and he will make the font available under a free license. The "professor from Hawaii" supports the creation of a font created by Michael; he will be using it himself. Given that the font will be freely licensed, everyone can distribute this font if they want to.

Michael Everson will provide a high quality font; <grin> he has a reputation to lose and, I will be personally involved in accepting the font.

I have spoken with Frank Meijer of the Tropenmuseum at the WCN 2011 conference; he is looking forward to this project, he mentioned that they have a new scanner making it easy to scan the Batak texts in the museum. He also indicated that he is happy to reach out to other museums with Batak texts.

Project goal


Transcribe Batak texts in a font that is to be developed and demonstrate its value. To achieve this we need a Batak font, we need manuscripts scanned and published on Meta and we need a way to signal what needs doing. The Malayalam wikisource has this mechanism already.

The secondary goal to the project is to demonstrate that history in documents will become public when the texts are digitally available. Readable in the original text. This is why Ancient Greek documents are well studied. Whole cultures are unknown because the artefacts are not readily available for study.

Non-financial requirements


Some parts of the outreach necessary I may do by combining this with my WMF job doing outreach for language support.

Other benefits


This is very much a demonstration project. There are texts in many languages in scripts that are not available in Unicde that are just not available in this digital age. Liberating a culture does not cost much money and, it will change the perception of what actually happened. History has so far been written by the victor and we have lost what really happened when the other literary artefacts are unavailable.

Measures of success

  • interest by more museums for scanning texts in Batak
  • interest by people for other languages
  • improve the understanding of how history really was once historical documents of the losers become available and usable

Team members (optional)

  1. Gerard Meijssen
  2. Michael Everson
  3. Tropenmuseum Amsterdam
For grantees

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