Community Transcription-Ten Months On

January 26th, 2012

Wow! Overnight we signed up our 500th transcriber. That’s a pretty significant benchmark, and 80 more transcribers than last month.

It’s been ten months now since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription. Way back in March we offered the Scripto transcription tool, and ever since then we have been steadily adding finished documents to our archive. 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.

To date, we have 500 users-fully 93 of them have transcribed within the last 90 days-this is actually a few more than this time last month. Those transcribers have made more than 3,244 saves to War Department documents, which is about 500 more than last month. That translates to more than 730 finished documents, along with another 100 documents begun. Editors have nominated an additional 82 for transcription. Additionally, transcribers have initiated approximately 195 conversations using the “talk” feature.

Our transcribers truly represent a cross-section of life: we have university professors, genealogists, hobbyists, editors, librarians, historical re-enactors, firefighters, and many other kinds of folks transcribing. There are transcribers from every American state, and from five different continents. Affiliations range from the Seneca Nation to the Daughters of the American Revolution, and from the Society of the Cincinnati to major research universities. Their interests range from personal research, to genealogy, to professional projects. Some of our transcribers had extensive experience with historical documents when they began; for others, this is their first encounter with two hundred-year old letters and handwriting. Many of our transcribers have only worked on a few documents, but several have transcribed dozens of them.

The documents themselves vary widely in content. Some are intelligence reports detailing the movements of Indian parties. Others describe treaty negotiations or terms. Many documents chronicle criminal proceedings; there are financial records and officers’ commissions, as well as supply inventories.

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

Document Spotlight-Moravian Indians on the Move

January 23rd, 2012

Recently, transcriber Rw1500 brought us a document detailing the movements of a band of Moravian Indians. In what appears to be an intelligence report, the group of approximately 100 men, women, and children had crossed Lake Erie headed for a site they had previously lived on. Too late to settle and raise crops before Winter, the Moravians opted instead to settle temporarily on the Cuyahoga River. The writer, Josiah Harmon, reports that these Indians were known to be friendly to the United States.

Harmon also reports movements of another group of Indians, made up of members of Ottawas and Chippewas. That band was headed north to purchase land near Quebec.

Read the original document here:

There are many more documents awaiting transcription. Take a moment to register ( and choose a document to begin your adventure. You will be doing important work by adding to the historical record, and you never know what you will read!