Nominated Document Spotlight-Knox Considers the Constitution

July 25th, 2013

This week we’ll depart from our usual spotlight and bring you a document that has not yet been transcribed. It appears to have been written by General Henry Knox.  In it, Knox refers to the U.S. the Constitution,  and he mentions New York and Virginia.

Please help us get this document transcribed and into the historical record.

You may read and transcribe the original document here.

Next week we’ll feature another installment in our transcriber spotlight series.

This is one of many–there are many more documents awaiting transcription. Take a moment to register (http://wardepartmentpapers.org/scripto/register.php) 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!

Document Spotlight-The Government Helps a Widow

July 18th, 2013

Today’s letter, brought to us by volunteer transcriber Deblegs, describes the government’s role in helping a widow recover some money owed her. The writer, a Mr. Dunscomb, reports to Josiah Howell that Mrs Williams has applied several times for benefits resulting from her husband’s death in service. It appears that another officer had been given funds to pay Mr. Williams, but had not; Dunscomb suggests that the widow’s money be taken from that officer to help Mrs. Williams as much as possible. He writes with compassion for her situation-“it will be of much use to Mrs Williams”-but also with some irritation at her many requests for help: “you will not only serve the concerned but rid me of frequent unnecessary applications.” All in all, a slightly complicated look at the world of accounts and bureaucrats. Moreover, it highlights some of the tensions between wanting to help and being inundated with desperate cases-all of which required investigation and diligence.

Read the original document here.

Next week we’ll feature another installment in our transcriber spotlight series.

It is not too late–there are many more documents awaiting transcription. Take a moment to register (http://wardepartmentpapers.org/scripto/register.php) 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!

Document Spotlight-Zebulon Pike, Settlement of Accounts, and Stolen Vouchers

July 11th, 2013

Today’s letter, brought to us by volunteer transcriber Deblegs, concerns Captain Zebulon Pike (the father of explorer Zebulon M. Pike) and a settling of accounts with him over expense monies. The writer, Thomas O’Hara, explains that Pike may be owed some two hundred dollars for expenses. The remainder of the letter is remarkable for its discussion of a possible counterfeiting charge. An unnamed man was found in possession of counterfeited government vouchers-vouchers that had been stolen from a Mr. Pierce-and O’Hara expected to testify before the local grand jury in that matter.

Read the original document here.

Next week we’ll feature another installment in our transcriber spotlight series.

It is not too late–there are many more documents awaiting transcription. Take a moment to register (http://wardepartmentpapers.org/scripto/register.php) 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!

Community Transcription-Twenty Six Months In

July 2nd, 2013

It’s been twenty-six months now since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, and ever since then we have been steadily adding transcribers as well as 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.

As of this morning, we have 1,426 users-fully 237 them have transcribed within the last 90 days, which is just under 17%. This number has dropped very slightly, but continues to hold relatively steady. Those volunteer transcribers have made 11,172 saves to War Department documents, which is about 104 more than at the last update. That works out to 2,061 finished documents, along with another 19 documents begun. Additionally, transcribers have initiated 471 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 73,794 total page views.

By now we have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, from teachers to CEOs, from journalists to clerks, and from descendants to curators. There are folks transcribing from every American state, and from six different continents. Transcribers also include teachers at every level of education, elementary to university. We have unaffiliated transcribers as well as those attached to institutions, ranging from major research libraries to historical sites, and from the National Park Service to the more than a dozen Native American tribes. Among those that specify an interest or focus, those interests range from professional research, to family research, to classroom activities. 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 we have a growing number of people who have transcribed dozens of them. 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. Others are transcripts of speeches or treaties. Some documents detail disciplinary action; there are supply lists and officers’ commissions, as well as intelligence or action reports.

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