Help complete a Transcription!

April 9th, 2014

Every now and then, a document gets only partly transcribed. It’s important to keep this in mind when you are looking through the documents nominated for transcription; if the first page has already been transcribed, read through to make sure it is the whole page, and then click through the document. You may be able to help us by completing the transcription!

If you are interested in helping us to wrap up these loose ends, here are a few documents which were started but have not yet been completed:

Treaty of Peace, Amity and Commerce between the State of Georgia and the Creek Nation, November 3, 1786. Two out of four pages need to be transcribed (pages 5-13 are alternate copies of the same text).

Henry Knox to Otho H. Williams, June 11, 1788, regarding the ratification of the Constitution. Two out of three pages need to be transcribed.

Opinion of Hamilton & Knox Respecting the Brigantine “Little Sarah”, July 8, 1793. This is an eight page document, of which only half the first page has been transcribed.

John Pierce to John White, concerning various accounts, October 28, 1786. One page needs to be transcribed.

Discussion of Possible Decisions by Board of Treasury Regarding Army Contracts, November 22, 1786. The address leaf and second page of the document need to be transcribed.

John Pierce regarding pay due Virginia Officers, December 1786. One page needs to be transcribed.

Examination of the claim of John Morrill. Two pages to transcribe.

Thanks to all our transcribers for their great work!

Community Transcription – Thirty-Five Months

March 26th, 2014

In the thirty-five months since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, we have continued to add transcribers. We are still receiving daily requests for transcription accounts.

Here is a snapshot of transcription activity in the last month:

As of this morning, we have 1,758 users, with approximately 34 new transcribers signed up since the last update. Those volunteer transcribers have made 12,280 saves to War Department documents, which is about 94 additional edits since the last update. We also know that, on average, each document is edited about three times before it is finished. Moreover, we have had 139,190 total page views.

We have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, including undergraduate and graduate students, independent scholars, genealogists, veterans, preservationists, and living history practitioners. Transcribers include teachers at every level of education, elementary to university. In addition to the many transcribers in the United States who registered in the last month, we have transcribers from the United Kingdom, Canada, and India. Those who specified an interest or focus mentioned topics such as trade, pensions, events in Virginia, and the history of medicine.

The documents vary widely in content. Recently completed transcriptions include the daily business of a Navy Yard, explanation of a denied claim for supplies provided a party of Native Americans, and a query about the price of furniture in Philadelphia.

As we continue to move forward with the project, users may still register for a transcription account.

Request for Transcribers: The Jay Treaty

March 12th, 2014

The Jay Treaty with Great Britain was very controversial at the time. In this letter to Baltimore merchant Robert Oliver, Secretary of War James McHenry warns that if the House doesn’t appropriate funding for the Treaty, the British will not withdraw their troops from the Western posts.

Community Transcription – Thirty-Four Months

February 27th, 2014

In the thirty-four months since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, we have been steadily adding transcribers. Nearly three years in, we are still receiving daily requests for transcription accounts.

Here is a snapshot of transcription activity in the last month:

As of this morning, we have 1,724 users, with approximately 64 new transcribers signed up since the last update. Those volunteer transcribers have made 12,186 saves to War Department documents, which is about 115 additional edits since the last update. Additionally, transcribers have initiated a little over 500 conversations using the “talk” feature. We also know that, on average, each document is edited about three times before it is finished. Moreover, we have had 128,738 total page views.

By now we have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, including undergraduate and graduate students, independent scholars, published authors, genealogists, and active duty members of the United States military. Transcribers include teachers at every level of education, elementary to university. In addition to the many transcribers in the United States who registered in the last two months, we have also had people register from Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Those who specified an interest or focus mentioned topics such as the Creek Confederacy, the history of the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations, the Georgia Militia, international relations, and the frontier, as well as specific individuals to whom some of our transcribers are related.

The documents vary widely in content. Recently completed transcriptions include the outcome of a case of fraud, orders of military supplies and uniforms, and plans of the Ohio Company for the laying out of towns.

As we continue to move forward with the project, users may still register for a transcription account.

Request for Transcribers: Eli Whitney and the manufacture of muskets for the War Department

February 19th, 2014

Patent law was nothing like it is today.  This in part explains why Eli Whitney’s cotton gin did not bring him much money.  In fact, for much of the 1790s, Whitney  was consumed with patent infringement lawsuits.  Financially desperate,  he turned to the manufacture of muskets for the War Department. As it turned out, this was not much of a success either.  Whitney was supposed to complete the manufacture of over 10,000 muskets by 1800, but didn’t finish delivering the arms until 1809. In this 1798  document, the Secretary of Treasury requests that Samuel Hodgdon provide musket stocks for Whitney.

Community Transcription – Thirty-Three Months

January 29th, 2014

In the thirty-three months since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, we have been steadily adding transcribers. What started with just a dozen or so volunteers has grown into an active, vigorous community of volunteer transcribers.

Here is a snapshot of the last two months of transcription activity:

As of this morning, we have 1,685 users, with approximately 64 new transcribers signed up since the last update. Those volunteer transcribers have made 12,071 saves to War Department documents, which is about 565 additional edits since the last update. Additionally, transcribers have initiated roughly 500 conversations using the “talk” feature. We also know that on average, each document is edited about three times before it is finished. Moreover, we have had 121,692 total page views.

By now we have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, including undergraduate and graduate students, museum interpreters, genealogists, and military historians. Transcribers include teachers at every level of education, elementary to university. In addition to the many transcribers in the United States who registered in the last two months, we have also had people register from England, France, and Brazil. Those who specified an interest or focus included the Creek Nation, Spanish Florida, the construction of early U.S. warships, and a number of specific individuals, such as George Rogers Clark and Andrew Ellicott. Some of our transcribers have no particular interest in the War Department Papers, but are evaluating Scripto to use in their own projects.

The documents also vary widely in content. Many of them deal with pay for soldiers or officers. Some are short receipts while others are lengthy transcripts of speeches or treaties. There are request from veterans and their widows for pension payments and applications by refugees from Canada for relief.

As we continue to move forward with the project, users may still register for a transcription account.

Request for Transcribers: Beginning of the Quasi War with France, May 1798

January 24th, 2014

This important document highlights the initiation of the undeclared war with France,  later known as the Quasi War.  Here, Secretary of War James McHenry conveys instructions from President Adams to the Commanders of a number of United States naval vessels.

Community Transcription – Thirty-One Months

November 27th, 2013

In the thirty-one months since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, we have been steadily adding transcribers. What started with just a dozen or so volunteers has grown into an active, vigorous community of volunteer transcribers.

Here is the monthly snapshot at our transcription activity:

As of this morning, we have 1,621 users, with approximately 79 new transcribers signed up since the last update. Those volunteer transcribers have made 11,506 saves to War Department documents, which is about 150 additional edits since the last update. Additionally, transcribers have initiated roughly 500 conversations using the “talk” feature. We also know that on average, each document is edited about three times before it is finished. Moreover, we have had 104,958 total page views.

By now we have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, including undergraduate and graduate students, docents, genealogists, and history enthusiasts. Transcribers also include teachers at every level of education, elementary to university. Those who specified an interest or focus included the Haitian Revolution, Fries Rebellion, yellow fever, and historic sites. Some of our transcribers have no particular interest in the War Department Papers, but are evaluating Scripto to use in their own projects.

The documents also vary widely in content. Many of them deal with pay for soldiers or officers. Some are short receipts while others are lengthy transcripts of speeches or treaties. There are request from veterans and their widows for pension payments and applications by refugees from Canada for relief.

As we continue to move forward with the project, users may still register for a transcription account.

Community Transcription-Thirty Months In

October 30th, 2013

In the thirty months since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, we have been steadily adding transcribers. What started with just a dozen or so volunteers has grown into an active, vigorous community of volunteer transcribers.

We offer here yet another snapshot at our transcription activity.

As of this morning, we have 1,538 users, with approximately 50 new transcribers signed up since the last update. Those volunteer transcribers have made 11,506 saves to War Department documents, which is about 200 additional edits since the last update. Additionally, transcribers have initiated 494 conversations using the “talk” feature. We also know that on average, each document is  edited about three times before it is finished. Moreover, we have had 93,069 total page views.

By now we have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, from museum professionals to archivists, from students to veterans, and from writers to hobbyists. Transcribers also include teachers at every level of education, elementary to university.

New transcribers in the last month include genealogists, graduate students, teachers, self-described “history buffs,” and professional research historians. Those who specified an interest or focus included ship building, Native American history, and specific people and military units. Some of our transcribers have no particular interest in the War Department Papers, but are evaluating Scripto to use in their own projects.

The documents themselves vary widely in content. Many of them deal with pay for soldiers or officers. Some are short receipts while others are lengthy transcripts of speeches or treaties. There are request from veterans and their widows for pension payments and applications by refugees from Canada for relief.

As we continue forward with the project, users may still register for a transcription account.

What is a Letterbook?

October 16th, 2013

If you are looking at an image that contains multiple documents with unusually neat penmanship, you are looking at a letter book. Letter books are simply copies of original letters bound together in a book and usually organized chronologically. Making such hand written copies was the job of a clerk. Among many other qualities, clerks had to have good penmanship. That’s why these letters are so easy to read.
There are numerous letter books in the Papers of the War Department collections. The letter books of Generals such as Anthony Wayne, for example, furnish us a picture of his Fallen Timbers campaign-both in terms of what he sent to the War Department and what he received from Henry Knox. The letter books of accountants such as Joseph Howell and William Simmons have thousands of entries.

You might have wondered, if there was such a devastating fire at the War Department, where did all these documents come from? One of the reasons is letter books. Recipients kept copies of letters received from the War Department. So, while perhaps the original copy (and the letter book) in Philadelphia might have gone up in flames, a copy of the letter was sometimes recovered elsewhere. And it was for just that reason-having copies of documents in case the originals were lost-that letter books were designed.