Intrigued by Historical Documents?

Then I have the site for you. I just discovered this last week, I follow the Smithsonian and was exploring their website when this jumped out at me.

Digital Volunteers.

What? Let me explain. The Smithsonian Institute (and partners) have so many historical documents saved up it would probably take eons for their staff to transcribe them all. That’s where this volunteer opportunity comes in. They digitize the old documents and publish them to the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Transcription Center where anyone can volunteer to transcribe the documents for them. (The act of transcribing in this case is just typing out what the document says so that it can be easily searchable.)

Now, I have a weird fascination with trying to read really old cursive, it’s beautiful and not what we are used to. So I spent all weekend on this site helping transcribe a field journal from the 1800’s. There is some very important “how to” information that you want to read before getting started, but from there it’s relatively easy. You just pick a project of interest and you can transcribe any pages that haven’t been completed yet. If you are interested in diving deeper, you can create an account which allows you to review the pages others have already transcribed as well. (There are currently over 35,000 registered volunteers so projects may go fast, always to be replaced by others of course.)

Also, even if you are not interested in this I still recommend checking out the Smithsonian website, there is lots to explore such as different topics, some of their collections, and even participate in events like naming their new giant panda cub!