More and more records are being digitized and made available online now than ever before. Many organizations are digitizing records, and then crowdsourcing the transcription and indexing to regular people like us. Together, we can help make those records searchable and findable for everyone.
Here are a few projects you can work on with fellow genealogists or even just at home in your bunny slippers.
Staff from the Library of Virginia recorded an hour-long presentation about reading old handwriting with lots of tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utZN0E4h0sw
The State Archives of North Carolina has put together some resources to help with reading old handwriting: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/transcribenc/transcribenc-handwriting-resources
Making History: Transcribe – various historic documents from the Library of Virginia
Virginia Chronicle from the Library of Virginia is a historical archive of Virginia newspapers, and it is digitized and searchable. The newspapers were made searchable by software, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This software does an amazing job of reading the digital copies of the newspapers and turning them into searchable text, but it does get things wrong. Virginia Chronicle invites us to correct the OCR errors. Explore Virginia Chronicle‘s collection, pick a paper and an issue, and correct the text so that you and your fellow researchers will better be able to find information.
University of Virginia Law Library
Collections available for transcription include personal papers, postcards and school records depicting life in the German Democratic Republic, legal documents from early America, and more.
FamilySearch has digitized a lot more records than are currently searchable in its indexes. Help do some of that indexing! Choose a Virginia project, or from any other state, or country! Learn more at https://www.familysearch.org/getinvolved/ and then click the Indexing tab.
Similar to the Library of Virginia’s Making History: Transcribe projects, North Carolina also offers multiple opportunities for people to help transcribe records, diaries, letters, and more. https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/transcribenc
The National Archives has a Citizen Archivist program, allowing us to contribute to the National Archives Catalog by tagging, transcribing, and adding comments to their records, making them more accessible and searchable. See https://www.archives.gov/citizen-archivist
The Library of Congress also has a “By the People” project where we can transcribe, tag, or review some of their digitized documents, such as personal papers, letters, diaries, and more. See https://crowd.loc.gov/
The Smithsonian has several projects for which it is using crowdsourcing to help improve record availability. There are projects from a variety of Smithsonian museums and archives, including the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and more! https://transcription.si.edu/
Restore the Ancestors 2019
Collaboration between FamilySearch and the International African American Museum to index FamilySearch records of interest for African American genealogy. The indexing is done at FamilySearch but does require an additional registration to join the Restore the Ancestors indexing group. See https://cfh.iaamuseum.org/announcing-the-restore-the-ancestors-2019-project-help-us-index-records-for-african-american-genealogy/ for more information and to get started.
(Note: though the name of the project is “Restore the Ancestors 2019,” it is an ongoing project.)
From the Page
From the Page is one of the software platforms for crowdsourcing transcriptions. They have a list of projects their customers are working on where you can help. Some are not genealogical in nature, but some are, such as the Nineteenth Century Digital Cooperative, hosted by the Kentucky Historical Society. See https://fromthepage.com/findaproject for a list of From the Page projects, or https://fromthepage.com/ncdc for more about the NCDC.
Similar to the From the Page software, Veridian Software is another software platform for crowdsourcing transcriptions. See https://veridiansoftware.com/collections/ for a list of projects including newspapers, libraries, historical societies, and more!
Here is another blog post from the American Historical Association about crowd transcription projects: https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/teaching-resources-for-historians/teaching-with-dighist/crowd-transcription-projects-resource
Have a favorite transcription project not listed above? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list!