Community Transcription – Fifty-Seven Months

February 2nd, 2016

January was the fifty-seventh month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and we continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Thirty-two new transcribers signed up last month, and as of January 31, the total number of transcribers was 2,485. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and included high school teachers, university professors, students, independent scholars, genealogists, and active and retired members of the military.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in January mentioned an interest in topics and people such as the Indian Removal Act, James WilkinsonYazoo lands, Battle of Kings Mountain, Braddock’s Campaign, and Forts Nelson, Norfolk, and Cumberland.

Transcribed documents include an assessment of a dispute between Georgia and Creek Indians, Anthony Gamelin’s speeches to the Ouabache (Wabash) and Miami nationsuse of carriages for Washington’s funeral, and information on the funeral ceremony honoring Washington.

Our community of transcribers have added 359 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 16,740. Overall, we have had 310,408 page views.

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

How to Transcribe Letterbooks

January 21st, 2016

A letterbook is a bound collection of copies of letters sent and received by one person, usually organized chronologically. Clerks, who often had neat penmanship, were employed to create copies of their employer’s letters. Some early Americans wanted to utilize letterbooks when writing their memoirs; others simply found it useful and practical to have copies of their correspondence on hand. From a technological perspective, letterbooks were quite useful in the event that a person’s original correspondence got lost or, in the case of the War Department, fell victim to fire. From today’s perspective, a letterbook is akin to an email’s sent mail folder.

There are many letterbooks in the Papers of the War Department. If you are unsure of whether or not you are viewing a letterbook, check the document format field found on the document view page. When you come across a letterbook, it is important to note exactly which document is being described in the document view page and then transcribe only that document. Our system is not equipped to show only the specified document in the letterbook, and multiple pages of the letterbook will be accessible via the initial document.

The transcribe view page of the document does not specify which document to transcribe, but generally it is the first document that appears after clicking “transcribe this document.” If it is still not clear, check the date, author, and recipient names in the document information box on the document view page to ensure they match the letter you are transcribing. If there are multiple letters written on a single page within a letterbook, make sure to transcribe only the document described in the document view page. Each document within the letterbook will have its own document page; if an entire letterbook is transcribed through one single document, the metadata associated with the documents within the letterbook will not match up properly.

Community Transcription – Fifty-Six Months

January 5th, 2016

December was the fifty-sixth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and we continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

As of December 31, we had 2,453 transcribers; we created twenty-two new accounts in December. These new transcribers included students at various levels, members of the Creek nation, as well as a self-described “History lover” and a “history bug”.  Our transcribers’ interests continue to be as varied as their backgrounds. One new transcriber is researching a historic site near their home, another is interested in the lives of the lesser-known officers and soldiers in the frontiers and borderlands of the early United States, and a third works at one of the historic sites which features prominently in our documentary collection.

Our community of transcribers have added 358 transcribed pages to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 16,381. Overall, we have had 295,859 page views.

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

Transcribe This: Williams Declines Promotion

December 17th, 2015

Brigadier General Otho H. Williams explains his reasons for declining a promotion to Henry Knox in this letter dated May 6, 1792.

While Williams describes himself as “very highly complimented” by Knox’s favorable opinion and understands that “the President is pleased to entertain of my abilities,” he writes that he “could not… accept a command in the army, even if the President were to think me worthy of commanding in chief.” Williams writes that his health has been “extremely precarious” for two years and requires much care and attention. If he accepted the position, Williams believes that the happiness of his family would “be for a time suspended, if not sacrificed.” Williams also notes that he has in his charge “a number of orphan children” which engages his “integrity and affections,” who would also “lie neglected.” Williams asks to be excused for “declining the honor proposed to be conferred on me” and writes that when it is in his power “to render any efficient service to my Country I shall be most happy in the opportunity.”

Are you interested in transcribing this document and adding to the searchable content of the PWD? Learn about the transcription process and sign up for a transcriber account here.

Community Transcription – Fifty-Five Months

December 3rd, 2015

November was the fifty-fifth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and 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 November 30, the total number of transcribers was 2,431. These new transcribers come from a variety of backgrounds and included historians, teachers, writers, students, genealogists, and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in November mentioned an interest in topics and people such as the San Lorenzo TreatyEbenezer Sprout, Patrick Henry, Israel Chapin, and the states of Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Transcribed documents include an assurance of friendship from Don Josef Ignacio de Viar to Henry Knox, the enlistment pledge of Samuel Burrows, the deposition of Joseph Barnett, rumors of an Indian attack on Detroit, a return of public stores deposited in Rhode Island, and confidential information on an act to be passed by Congress.

Our community of transcribers have added 130 edits to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 16,023. Overall, we have had 292,969 page views.

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

Transcribe This: Coats, Vests, Overalls, Etc. Needed by Soldiers

November 19th, 2015

This letter, authored by Stephen Rochefontaine, was written December 9, 1796 at West Point. Rochefontaine was writing to Samuel Hodgdon, who was in Philadelphia, regarding soldiers at West Point who are in need of items of clothing.

Rochefontaine requests clothing for corps who are still at West Point. He writes that “the season has become so inclement for 10 days past” and the men are suffering from want of clothing. The sergeants are in need of “coats, vests, overalls, and shirts,” while privates require “vests, overalls, shirts, socks, and shoes.” Musicians’ coats are also requested. The items of clothing are to be sent in the care of Lieutenant Drausy, but if he is not returning to West Point immediately, Rochefontaine asks that the clothing be sent before him. Captain Frye should also be notified, since he can inform Manning and Smith, the contractors, as “for in the hurry of business” the clothes “are sometimes remaining in the store forgot.”

Are you interested in transcribing this document and adding to the searchable content of the PWD? Learn about the transcription process and sign up for a transcriber account here.

Community Transcription – Fifty-Four Months

November 3rd, 2015

October was the fifty-fourth month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and we continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Twenty-three new transcribers signed up last month, and as of October 31, the total number of transcribers was 2,385. These new transcribers included university students, military historians, teachers, independent researchers, preservation society members, and affiliates of universities in Ireland and Australia.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in October mentioned an interest in topics and people such as the fur tradethe Ohio River Valley, Wilderness Trace, the Kentucky militiaGeorge Grant McIntosh, and the Revolutionary War.

Transcribed documents include the status of supplies lost in a sunken boatcompensation for Indiansa request to work as a Navy surgeon, an account of an Indian attack on the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, Indian attacks in the Ohio territory, and a letter of support for the President.

Our community of transcribers have added 314 edits to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 15,893. Overall, we have had 289,487 page views.

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

Transcribe This: Confidential Act of Congress

October 22nd, 2015

This letter from Henry Knox to Beverley Randolph, Governor of Virginia, was written on March 10, 1791, and concerns confidential information resulting from Congress’s deliberations on protecting the frontier.

Knox writes to the Governor that an act has been proposed for “raising, and adding another regiment to the military establishment of the United States and for making further provision for the protection of the frontiers.” Knox requests that he does not let this information “out of your possession” since it has yet to be published through the proper channels. The government has not finished making arrangements necessary for the Act to be implemented, but the President has “authorized an expedition against the Wabash indians.” The troops will be raised in Kentucky and are to be made up of no more than seven hundred and fifty mounted volunteers who will be under the command of Brigadier General Charles Scott. John Brown is in charge of making the preparations.

Are you interested in transcribing this document and adding to the searchable content of the PWD? Learn about the transcription process and sign up for a transcriber account here.

Community Transcription – Fifty-Three Months

October 5th, 2015

September was the fifty-third month since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and we continue to receive regular requests for transcriber accounts. Here is a snapshot of transcription activity for the month:

Seventy-seven new transcribers signed up last month, and as of September 30, the total number of transcribers was 2,362. These new transcribers included members of historical societies, historians, librarians, and a large number of university students.

The individuals who signed up to transcribe in September mentioned an interest in people and topics such as Abraham KirkpatrickCreek Indians, the Hopewell Treaties, patents, and the Western frontier.

Transcribed documents include correspondence regarding scouts and settlers killed by Indians, the appointment of Colonel Martin, Indian attacks on the Ohio RiverMiami hostilities, the protection of counties on the frontier, and negotiations with Indians. Special thanks to students in Professor Bizri’s War and American Society class for transcribing a large number of documents.

Our community of transcribers have added 244 edits to War Department documents, with the total number of saves being 15,579. Overall, we have had 283,758 page views.

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

Transcribe This: Hats for Artillerists

September 15th, 2015

In this letter from November 1800, Samuel Hodgdon, the Commissary of Military Stores, writes to Israel Whelen, the Purveyor of Public Supplies, concerning an order of artillerists’ hats.

Hodgdon writes that after reading the store keeper’s report, he finds that “fifty three hats for Artillerists” are needed to complete the orders the store keeper has issued. Since returns from that corps are received every day that utilize that particular article of clothing, Hodgdon asks Whelen to purchase or procure the requested items, and place in the store as soon as possible “One hundred, answering to the Pattern” which Hodgdon will provide him.

Are you interested in transcribing this document and adding to the searchable content of the PWD? Learn about the transcription process and sign up for a transcriber account here.