Community Transcription: January 2017

February 1st, 2017

January 2017 marked the sixty-ninth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for last month:

Twenty new transcribers signed up last month which brings the total number of transcribers up to 2,830 as of January 31, 2017. These individuals who signed up in January mentioned an interest in people and topics such as Fort Rensselaer, Fort Plain, Marinus Willett, Mohawk Indians, French Broad Rivers, and pilot boat schooners.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding discussion of the removal of the War Office, Israel Chapin’s speech to the Six Nations, transportation of military stores from Rhode Island, Knox invited to a ceremony for the president, relief for veterans, transportation of ammunition, and requesting a travel journal of western lands. Transcribers also transcribed documents reflecting last month’s theme of illness including illness update, delay for Captain Simkins, leave of absence due to illness, silence on sending accounts due to illness, personal letter on illness, illness of General Wayne, and caring for sick at Fort McHenry.

Our community of transcribers have added 157 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 19,831. Overall, we have had 672,379 page views.

For the month of February, we are encouraging our volunteers to transcribe documents relating to borders and boundaries. The following documents mention this theme and are in need of transcription: the Florida boundary mission of Isaac Guion, appointment of commissioners to survey US boundaries with Creeks, Chickasaws, and Cherokees, and enforcement of the Treaty of Madrid. Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting more documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Community Transcription: December 2016

January 10th, 2017

Happy New Year!

December 2016 marked the sixty-eighth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and over five years after launch we still receive requests for transcriber accounts! Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for last month:

Twenty new transcriber signed up last month which brings the total number of transcribers up to 2,810 as of December 31, 2016. These individuals who signed up in December mentioned an interest in people and topics such as John Sevier, land grants, and the battle of the Wabash.

Newly transcribed documents include ones regarding protection of frontiers, permission to travel to New York, letter to the accountant of the Navy, request for account information, sundry accounts, transport of goods and bookkeeping, Mr. Pierce’s absence, and quarters for recruits.

Our community of transcribers have added 53 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 19,674. Overall, we have had 666,856 page views.

For the month of January, we are encouraging our volunteers to transcribe documents relating to illness. The following documents mention this theme and are in need of transcription: silence on sending accounts due to illness, leave of absence due to illness, and the grave illness of Mrs. Clymer. Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting more documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Community Transcription – Sixty-Seven Months

December 5th, 2016

November marked the sixty-seventh month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription. We continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Thirty-five new transcriber signed up last month, and as of November 30, the total number of transcribers was 2,790. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and include researchers, genealogists, historians, university students, and librarians.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in November mentioned an interest in people and topics such as the Cherokee nation; the northwest territory; Buffalo, New York; and the military presence in Tennessee.

Transcribed documents include documents regarding a profound secretabstract of supplies to the Choctaw Indians, muster master for the Washington District, rules regarding payment of women, annuities and presents for Indians, report on a memorial to Congress, treaty between Spanish and Indians, and the election of Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson.

Our community of transcribers have added 177 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 19,621. Overall, we have had 664,280 page views.

For the month of December, we are encouraging our volunteers to transcribe documents relating to travel in Early America. The following documents mention this theme and are in need of transcription: Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians travel to Philadelphia, ice making travel by river difficult, McHenry’s request for a travel journal, and information regarding the transportation of ammunition. Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting more documents in need of transcription throughout the month.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Community Transcription – Sixty-Six Months

November 1st, 2016

October marked the sixty-sixth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription. We continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Twenty-five new transcriber signed up last month, and as of October 31, the total number of transcribers was 2,755. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and include researchers, writers, university students, and genealogists.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in October mentioned an interest in people and topics such as the Navy, St. Clair’s Defeat, the Quasi-War, and George Washington.

Transcribed documents include documents regarding William Knox conveying Congressional resolutions, provisions for the Senecas, information on US-British relations from John Jay, high demand for kentledge, prohibition on the exportation of arms and ammunition, blankets for the Marine Corps, politics and Indian relations, and Maryland’s ratification of the Constitution.

Our community of transcribers have added 158 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 19,444. Overall, we have had 597,479 page views.

For the month of November, we are encouraging our volunteers to transcribe documents relating to veterans and veteran affairs in Early America. The following documents mention this theme and are in need of transcription: request for money from a veteran of St. Clair expedition, preference towards veteran officers in selections for military appointment, military service of Sergeant Pollard, and the petition of a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting more documents in need of transcription throughout the month of November that discuss this theme.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Discovering Foreign Policy in the PWD

October 27th, 2016

Elected and appointed officials in the 1790s faced a number of challenges when the war between Great Britain and France forced the United States into a defensive position. Federalists and Republicans debated loyalties as each faction sought to protect the commercial and political interests of the new nation. The Papers of the War Department offer a number of documents relevant to researchers interested in foreign policy of the early American republic. This post highlights documents that reveal some of this history.

Amidst their own revolutionary transitions, the French government declared war against Great Britain in 1793. President George Washington declared the United States would remain neutral in the conflict, and refused a request from their ambassador to provide military and financial support. Having already established a treaty with France years prior, the United States began negotiating with Great Britain to resolve remaining tensions following the Revolutionary War. The negotiations produced the Jay Treaty in 1795 that maintained peace with Britain. Angered by this new treaty, French ships began to stop, search, and seize American merchant ships for “contraband” supplies heading for British territories. In an effort to end merchant ship seizures, President John Adams sent ambassadors to France in 1797 to re-negotiate the American-French Treaty of Amity and Commerce. However, negotiations failed and resulted in the establishment of the US Navy as well as an undeclared conflict known today as the Quasi War. Assaults on American vessels continued until 1800 with the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine between the United States and France.

Below is a selection of documents relating to foreign policy, arranged chronologically:

  1. Notes Concerning the Conduct of the French Minister”: Letter from Alexander Hamilton (Secretary of the Treasury) to unknown recipient lists reasons the actions of the French ambassador, Charles Genêt, were deemed unacceptable by the United States.
    [
    Unavailable on PWD, can be found here]
  2. Extract of a Letter…Concerning U.S.-British Relations”: Letter from John Jay (Chief Justice) to Edmund Randolph (Secretary of State) discussing negotiations of the treaty Jay negotiated with Great Britain and the United States.
    [
    Transcribed]
  3. On the nation’s resistance to a large military establishment”: Letter draft from James McHenry (Secretary of War) to unknown recipient advocates for expanding the military and acknowledges popular resistance to maintaining a large military.
    [
    Needs Transcription]
  4. Detailed Response…Regarding Relations with France”: Letter from James McHenry (Secretary of War) to John Adams (President) discussing relations with France and avoiding war. Advice given to avoid appearing to favor Britain.
    [
    Needs Transcription]
  5. Requests Defence of US Merchant Ships against French”: Letter from William Hindman (Representative from Maryland) to James McHenry (Secretary of War) discussing the Direct House Tax and the need to defend American merchant ships against French attacks.
    [
    Needs Transcription]
  6. Federalist anger over Adam’s peace commission to France”: Letter from Uriah Tracy (Senator from Connecticut) to James McHenry (Secretary of War) illustrates Federalist opinion of France. Alludes to peace talks leading to the Convention of 1800 and a treaty with France.
    [
    Transcribed]


The documents referenced in this post are only a handful of examples that reveal opinions and disagreements over foreign policies from the early republic. To read more on what the PWD has to offer relating to this topic, see
these two blog posts. To uncover them all, explore our collection.


Interested in transcribing documents to increase the discoverability of the past? We encourage you to request a transcription account. The secrets of the past can be brought to the present with your help!

Any questions, comments, or suggestions for a future post? Please email us, we look forward to hearing from you! info@wardepartmentpapers.org

Community Transcription – Sixty-Five Months

October 4th, 2016

September marked the sixty-fifth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription. We continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Forty-six new transcribers signed up last month, and as of September 30, the total number of transcribers was 2,730. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and include university students, genealogists, archivists, historians, and writers.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in September mentioned an interest in people and topics such as the Wyandot people, military chaplains, Fallen Timbers, Henry Knox, and the Simcoe family.

Transcribed documents include documents regarding the account of requisitions made for Lincoln’s Mill; request for pay despite records lost during St. Clair defeat; clothing, muskets, and powder; training, supplies, and pay; British military activity; paperwork arriving with next post; agreement to repair arms; and updates on troop movement. Special thanks to students of Dr. George Oberle’s History 300 class for transcribing a large number of documents this month.

Our community of transcribers have added 358 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 19,286. Overall, we have had 557,516 page views.

For the month of October, we are encouraging our volunteers to transcribe documents relating to politics in Early America. The following documents mention this theme and are in need of transcription: ‘artful Democrats’ and federal reactions, details of the post-presidential journey home, Hamilton’s plan for military supply, and disputes over the importance of the Army and Navy. Follow us on Twitter (@wardeptpapers) where we’ll be posting more documents in need of transcription throughout the month of October that discuss this theme.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Guide to Native American Research

September 26th, 2016

Representing federal correspondence and documents from the early republic, the Papers of the War Department contains over 2,000 documents pertaining to federal relations with more than forty Native American tribes. Finding a specific item on the site can be difficult without knowing the full scope of the collection or how individual documents are described. To assist researchers of Native American history, we compiled a list of tribes, with all known variations of spelling, mentioned in the documents of the PWD (see below).


The below list of tribes are meant to be used as initial search terms. To achieve the best results, perform an
advanced search and browse documents for places associated with the tribe of interest during the late 18th century. To get an idea of what locations would be associated with a tribe on PWD, browse tags in the “place” field of a specific document, such as in the example below.

Speech to the Five Nations of Indians at Philadelphia,” April 17, 1792, from Timothy Pickering to the Headmen of Five Nations.


List of Native American Tribes on PWD
Each grouping includes all known variations of tribal/nation names within the collection for locating documents on each specific tribe. This list includes plural spellings only when the tribe cannot be found under the singular. Assume a plural search will be needed. Some of the below names/spellings may yield similar or same documents.

  • Five Nations
  • Mohawk
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga, Onandaga, Onondago, Onondagoes
  • Cayuga, Cayoga, Cuyahuga
  • Seneca, Senaca, Seneka, Senecas of the Glaize
  • Six Nations
  • Tuscorora, Tuscarora, Tuscarawas
  • Seven Nations, Seven Villages, Anishanabea
  • (Mississauga) Mississaga, Massasauga, Messagues, Messassagues
  • Creeks, Creek Nation
  • Iroquois
  • Piaukonohou
  • Delaware, Delaware Nation
  • Moravian
  • Lenape
  • Munsee, Munsey
  • Mohicans
  • Connoy
  • Nanticoke, Nantakokies, (Wantikokes?)
  • Mingo, Mingoes
  • Chippewa, Chippawa, Chipewa, Chipeewas
  • Potawatomi, Potawatami, Pattawatamie, Poutawatomie, Putawatomie, Pottawatamies, Pouttawatamies, Potowatomies, Potawatomies, Potawatimes, Potawanamees, Pattawatamies
  • Sioux
  • Catawba
  • Muscogee, Muskogee
  • Natchez (search within persons/groups)
  • Chickamauga, Chiccamaga
  • Chickasaw, Chicasaw
  • Cherokee
  • Miami, Miamies
  • Choctaw, Chocktaw
  • Weas, Weeas, Oiatanon, Ouiatenon
  • Kaskaskia
  • Peoria, Peorians
  • Cahokia
  • Kickapoo, Kikapoo
  • Eel River
  • Piankashaw, Piankishaw, Piankeshaw
  • Musquitoes
  • Wyandot, Huron
  • Ojibwa
  • Weachtenos
  • Ottawa
  • Shawnee, Shawanese, Shawanesse, Shawnese, Shawanee, Shawanoe, Shawenesse, Chanuanan, Chaouanon, Chanianons
  • Sauk, Sacs

 

If you have found any tribes or variation in spelling not mentioned here, please send us an email: info@wardepartmentpapers.org

Community Transcription – Sixty-Four Months

September 6th, 2016

August marked the sixty-fourth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription. We continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Nineteen new transcribers signed up last month, and as of August 31, the total number of transcribers was 2,684. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and included genealogists, retired librarians, and university students and professors.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in August mentioned an interest in people and topics such as Richard Howell, George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, William Campbell, and Shays’ Rebellion.

Transcribed documents include documents regarding provisions and supplies; discussion of condition of military stores in Rhode Island; coffee, sugar, and planting a garden; and Knox soliciting Lincoln’s opinion regarding his militia plan.

Our community of transcribers have added 189 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 18,928. Overall, we have had 530,501 page views.

For the month of September, we are encouraging our volunteers to transcribe documents relating to autumn and the change of weather more generally. The following documents mention this theme and are in need of transcription: clothing contracts in preparation for autumn, Indian attacks and expressions of support for Hodgdon, Captain Calendar Irvine’s request for vests for troops, weather conditions and river transportation, and the favorability of cool weather for escaping fever.

Interested in contributing to the project? Individuals can register for a transcription account and become a transcription associate.

Community Transcription – Sixty-Three Months

August 1st, 2016

July marked the sixty-third month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription. We continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Nineteen new transcribers signed up last month, and as of July 31, the total number of transcribers was 2,665. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and included genealogists, university students, members of Native American tribes, researchers, and a paleography enthusiast.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in July mentioned an interest in people, places, and topics such as Nathanael Greene; South West Point; the Kentucky militia; Mason County, KentuckyTreaty of Fort Harmar; Indians in Ohio; Amasa DavisChief Alexander McGillivray of the Creek Nation; and General Alexander Macomb.

Transcribed documents include documents regarding preparations for movement of the legion beyond Fort Jefferson, measures to deal with Creeks, delivery of powder and paper, delivery of cannon powder for fourth of July celebrations, General Knox’s account for wine, clothing needs, the removal of offices from Philadelphia for the summer, renting of houses for public officials, and the necessity of tents in Portland.

Our community of transcribers have added 161 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 18,739. Overall, we have had 515,373 page views.

We interviewed transcriber Scribe of Poland as part of our fifth anniversary celebration of community transcription. Check out her interview to get an idea of the kinds of documents transcribers come across while volunteering for the PWD.

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

In Memory of Lt. Col. Ronald J. Martin, USMC, Retired

July 29th, 2016

On July 14, 2016, the Rosenzweig Center lost Ronald J. Martin, a longtime and valuable member of our team, to his struggle with cancer. Ron came to the Center in 2008 to serve join the team of scholars editing the Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800, and was integral to our work with the National Park Service on the history of the War of 1812. He was an enthusiastic partner in our work to share early American history with the public, and we mourn his passing.

Serving as PWD’s only full time  staff person, Ron began as an assistant editor, but soon he moved into the role of Associate Editor. From that position, he worked with the assistant editors to complete the basic description (author, recipient, and date) of the full collection, more than 18,000 of the total 42,800 documents. Then, in 2010 he and the staff turned their attention to offering a more full description of a key subset of the collection. During the next three years, Ron shepherded the process of creating enhanced description, including people, places, and items mentioned and a general description of the document, for more than 27,000 items. Ron alone completed the description for more than 5,000 documents annually. In the end, the team exceed their description goals by 3,000 documents. As a result of this work, researchers, students, teachers, and members of the interested public have vastly improved access to the inner-workings of the early national federal government, to day-to-day correspondence on issues related to Native Americans, active military, veterans, and their families.

Beginning in 2010, Ron started to share his unparalleled knowledge of the PWD collections with the public through a series of blog posts. In the end, these short pieces covered the range of historical issues and events contained with in the collections. Ron wrote biographical sketches of key individuals, including Andrew Pickens, William Blount, Tobias Lear, and George Izard. He offered explanations for different kinds of documents, outlined important events in early national military history, and provided insight into the development of the Navy. Once RRCHNM began work on community sourcing the transcription of the Papers in March 2011, Ron carefully selected a set of documents that would be interesting candidates for public work. These documents included letters from Judith Sargent Murray, the Jay Treaty, materials on the beginning of the Quasi War, and orders for supplies related to muskets being manufactured by Eli Whitney—each one fascinating in its own way, and all reflective of different elements of the early national experience.

Upon the completion of the description for PWD, in 2013, Ron turned his attention to the War of 1812. Working with Christopher Hamner and Spencer Roberts, he created a significant amount of the historical content on the National Park Service’s website dedicated to the war’s bicentennial. The team for the 1812 work decided on content strategy that was more suited to the digital engagement habits of contemporary users, that stressed the cultural and social context of the war along with the more traditional materials on major military events, and that highlighted both contingency and diversity. Rather than presenting a series of longer essays that focus on key themes, the team developed 70 modules that users could explore by following their own interests and questions. “Voices” modules began with a quotation from a specific individual to offer users many human experiences and perspectives. “Moments” modules focused on a specific event to give users a sense of the key milestones of the conflict.”Perspectives” modules targeted the experiences of and impacts on the many diverse communities touched by the war. This approach allowed the team to present the history of the War of 1812 in new way while working within the constraints of the National Park Service’s technological infrastructure.

It was while he was finishing up his work on the War of 1812 that Ron fell ill. We at the Center have missed his kindness and generosity over the past year and a half, and we are deeply saddened at his death. Ron was so much more than a good historian—a Marine, a husband, a father, a champion hockey and football player—but, we knew him best through his hard work and his dedication to early American history. Given that commitment, Ron’s family has requested that memorial donations be made to RRCHNM. We will use those contributions to sustain our digital collections, including the Papers of the War Department project.