Who are we?

The partners of Brumfield Labs are experts in Software Development For Historic Documents. Our work includes

In his two decades of experience as a software engineer, Ben Brumfield has worked with cultural heritage organizations full-time for five years, first as an independent consultant, and then with Brumfield Labs. Prior to Brumfield Labs, he spent eleven years leading software development teams building fundraising and constituent engagement solutions for non-profit clients at Convio, Inc. Ben is the creator of the FromThePage crowdsourcing platform and has maintained a weblog about crowdsourced manuscript transcription at http://manuscripttranscription.blogspot.com/ since 2007. He has presented on the intersection of technology, crowd-sourcing, and digital editions at the American Historical Association, Society of Southwestern Archivists, Digital Humanities, the American Library Association and SXSW. He was an invited speaker at Digital Editions: Academia, Cultural Heritage, Society/ DiXiT Conference. Ben brings deep technical expertise in the area of digital documentary editions. He has a BA in Computer Science and Linguistics from Rice University. See Ben’s CV.

Prior to joining Brumfield Labs, Sara Carlstead Brumfield spent 17 years as a software engineer with IBM. She led development and support teams focused on system and network management products, serving as a focal point for large enterprise customers and inventing or co-inventing eight patents. Sara’s user centered software development experience would ensure that what we propose to build would make sense technically and be a flexible, usable platform for our stakeholders. She has a BA in Computer Science and the Study of Women and Gender from Rice University. See Sara’s LinkedIn profile.

As Patrick Lewis of the Kentucky Historical Society said, “Together, the Brumfields are the key piece to bridging the gap between humanities and technology. They distill project goals into specific technology plans. They help keep projects reasonable, feasible and within budget, while also identifying cost saving technology strategies and emerging technology tools to build the best possible projects.”

Not only did Brumfield Labs respond to our requests, they often anticipated our editorial needs, building in features – such as the capacity to index in both the source and target languages – that we have come to rely upon as our project has progressed. The tool has made our collaborative project fruitful and productive, often in ways I did not anticipate, and I have recommended it several times to other scholars who aim to undertake similar transcription and translation efforts. I heartily recommend Brumfield Labs as a partner in any digital editing project, and would be happy to speak to anyone about our experience working with them. – Laura Morreale, PhD Associate Director Center for Medieval Studies Fordham University

Ben has been instrumental in linking us to the wider world of genealogy IT development, enabling us to benefit from work done elsewhere in the world of cultural heritage. Ben is not only highly knowledgeable and highly skilled, but also a great colleague – Dr Patricia Reynolds, Executive Director of Free UK Genealogy

For more about what we do, explore the project categories to the left. You can also see this presentation by Sara.

Our Process

Although it varies from project to project, most of our development engagements follow these steps: We start with a discussion – what are you trying to do, what ideas do we have for getting it done. After we decide to move forward, we work with you to get the right paperwork in place – We understand that universities and public heritage organizations have stringent fiscal processes, and we’re happy to work with IT, procurement professionals, and fill out whatever paperwork it takes. After that’s out of the way, we start with an assessment. Most of the time that involves a survey of existing projects – some in your field, but most well outside of it – that achieve similar goals. We may look at existing parts of the project and talk to your stakeholders. We brainstorm ideas for the best way to accomplish your goals, often leveraging open source software and free tools. After presenting our recommendations to you, we start building. We meet with you weekly, showing the new features developed and working with you to prioritize the next week’s work. You have access to the work in progress to test and play with. When we get towards the end of the timeframe or budget, we spend the last week or two finalizing the project and turning it over to you.

Let's talk.

We love to talk – about manuscripts, crowd-sourcing, encoding, software development, or parenting precocious daughters while running a family business. If you have a project you’d like to discuss, or just want to pick our brains, we’d love to talk to you. You can grab a slot on our calendar, or send a note to benwbrum@gmail.com or saracarl@gmail.com.