Online Transcribing for Fun

The past two days I’ve been spending some time at the transcription center of the Smithsonian. I’ve always loved looking at things people wrote in the past, before there were computers. It’s a glimpse into how things were, in a very concrete, this-journal-was-held-by-history kind of way. I was browsing pictures of old journals all over the place, trying to read them. Then, somehow, I found that the general public can go online to help transcribe old writing. Some places, like museums, look for people who can read cursive because most of the old written stuff was in cursive, the further back in time it goes, the fancier the cursive gets. I’ve transcribed tables of rations given in the south from 1867, contracts between land owners and “Freedmen” from 1866, and some of Clara Barton’s writings. I’m going to go back to the Clara Barton stuff, which is at the National Library of Congress; her handwriting was really neat. There are tons of things to transcribe and for those who are bored who want to find something worthwhile to do (make history more accessible) can just go to these sites and start without having to make an account!

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