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.