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 Some of our transcribers had extensive experience with historical documents when they began; for others, this is their first encounter with two hundred-year old letters and handwriting.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.