Community Transcription Update-Twenty One Months On

January 24th, 2013

It’s been twenty-one months now since we opened the War Department archives to community transcription, 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.

As of this morning, we have 1,205 users-fully 210 them have transcribed within the last 90 days, which is about 17%. Those transcribers have made more than 9,520 saves to War Department documents, which is about 2,000 more than at the last update. That works out to 1,559 finished documents, along with another 29 documents begun. Additionally, transcribers have initiated approximately 366 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 45,300 total page views.

Our transcribers truly represent a variety of experience: we have independent scholars, museum curators, librarians, doctoral candidates, tribal historians, park rangers, genealogists, and many other kinds of folks transcribing. There are transcribers from every American state, and from six different continents. Affiliations range from major research universities to historical societies, and from the National Park Service to the Chickasaw Nation. Their 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 Some of our transcribers had extensive experience with historical documents when they began; for others, this is their first encounter with two hundred-year old letters and handwriting.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 several 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. Some describe intelligence reports from the American frontier. Others include nominations for government posts. Many documents request supplies or instructions; there are supply lists and officers’ commissions, as well as transcripts of investigations and disciplinary proceedings.

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