Community Transcription – Thirty-Four Months

February 27th, 2014

In the thirty-four months since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, we have been steadily adding transcribers. Nearly three years in, we are still receiving daily requests for transcription accounts.

Here is a snapshot of transcription activity in the last month:

As of this morning, we have 1,724 users, with approximately 64 new transcribers signed up since the last update. Those volunteer transcribers have made 12,186 saves to War Department documents, which is about 115 additional edits since the last update. Additionally, transcribers have initiated a little over 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 128,738 total page views.

By now we have an incredibly rich variety of folks transcribing, including undergraduate and graduate students, independent scholars, published authors, genealogists, and active duty members of the United States military. 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 Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Those who specified an interest or focus mentioned topics such as the Creek Confederacy, the history of the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations, the Georgia Militia, international relations, and the frontier, as well as specific individuals to whom some of our transcribers are related.

The documents vary widely in content. Recently completed transcriptions include the outcome of a case of fraud, orders of military supplies and uniforms, and plans of the Ohio Company for the laying out of towns.

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

Request for Transcribers: Eli Whitney and the manufacture of muskets for the War Department

February 19th, 2014

Patent law was nothing like it is today.  This in part explains why Eli Whitney’s cotton gin did not bring him much money.  In fact, for much of the 1790s, Whitney  was consumed with patent infringement lawsuits.  Financially desperate,  he turned to the manufacture of muskets for the War Department. As it turned out, this was not much of a success either.  Whitney was supposed to complete the manufacture of over 10,000 muskets by 1800, but didn’t finish delivering the arms until 1809. In this 1798  document, the Secretary of Treasury requests that Samuel Hodgdon provide musket stocks for Whitney.