adxgetmedia.pngWhile researching an essay about New York City poets and the Great Depression last year, this GalleyCat editor read through hundreds of pages from 1930s novels, periodicals, and self-published materials that couldn’t leave the New York Public Library.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software can help authors and researchers digging through a stack of orphan works. These specialized tools convert scanned, photographed, or written text into digital text. We test drove ABBYY FineReader Express for this article–the software voted “Best Text Recognition Tool” by Lifehacker readers.

The OCR company has been around for 20 years, and the program now recognizes 171 different languages. Embedded below, you can see screen shots of the text capture process–watching a 75-year-old self published poetry journal page enter the digital age.

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