Crowdsourcing Transcription and Indexing Projects to Work on While Sheltering in Place

If you need a break from Netflix, reading, crafting, disinfecting, and sterilizing during the COVID-19 quarantine, there are many volunteer indexing and transcription opportunities available online.

Indexing and transcribing can be a rewarding pastime for genealogists and local historians. If you have a student at home who could use some practice reading cursive, you could work on some of these projects together! These diaries, letters, and historical documents are primary source materials that will help researchers for years to come and you can help make them accessible to everyone.

FamilySearch Indexing Projects

When I started researching my family history it wasn’t as easy as typing in a name and clicking on a leaf. FamilySearch had digitized the records I needed, but they had not been indexed yet. I had to browse through volumes of vital records for each municipality and read every page to find the records I was looking for. Over the years, volunteers have worked on indexing these records so that they can be searchable. If you want to help other genealogists find the records they need, try indexing on FamilySearch!

US, Puerto Rico—Civil Registration, 1885–2001 [Part A]

U.S. National Archives – Citizen Archivist

From their website: “You can contribute to the National Archives Catalog by tagging, transcribing, and adding comments to their records, making them more accessible and searchable.” They have “missions” and featured records covering different topics that you can choose from. I typed “Davenport Iowa” in the search bar and found this survey for an Air Force Academy in Davenport written by the Corps of Engineers in 1950. I chose this record because I had been reading about the Air Force Academy recently while doing research on an individual photographed in one of our Hostetler portraits.

Record Group 341: Records of Headquarters U.S. Air Force (Air Staff), 1934 – 2004
Series: Reports Regarding Proposed Air Force Academy Site Selection, 1950 – 1950
File Unit: Davenport, Iowa, 1950

Other documents that would be of interest to Quad City historians are the Architectural/Historical Survey sites for Davenport prepared by the City’s CPED Historic Preservation division in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

Record Group 79: Records of the National Park Service, 1785 – 2006
Series: National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 – 2017
File Unit: National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records: Iowa

Smithsonian Digital Volunteers

If you’re up for a more challenging project, try the Smithsonian’s Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project. These papers include lists, letters, tables, notes, handwritten documents, and typed documents. The Smithsonian provides detailed instructions on how to transcribe tables and pages with footnotes or notes on the margins. You can volunteer to transcribe or review transcriptions done by other volunteers. The Smithsonian also has many other transcription projects available, including Sally Ride’s Space Shuttle training notes, and a variety of diaries, correspondence, and magazines.

These documents come from the Records of the Field Offices for the State of North Carolina, Series 4.4: Subordinate Field Offices: Charlotte (Freedmen’s Hospital)

University of Iowa Libraries – DIY History

The University of Iowa Libraries’ DIY History project asks volunteers to transcribe, translate, add tags, or add comments to digitized manuscripts from their collections. You can browse through their topics and select what you would like to transcribe: War Diary & Letters, Early Iowa Lives, University Life, Social Justice, Early Manuscripts, Keith-Albee Collection, Hevelin Fanzines, and Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts & Cookbooks. I typed in “Davenport” in the search bar and found some local items to transcribe.

For this example, I transcribed and translated a page from Ernest Rodriguez’ “Impressions” 1960s-1980s, from Ernest Rodriguez papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Happy Transcribing!

(posted by Cristina)

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