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Join the Library’s Herencia Campaign to Improve Access to Spanish Legal Documents

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Royal Order of June 26, 1741 concerning payment of annuities by the city of Zaragoza in compliance with the regulations on this matter, approved and ratified on October 9, 1734.

[Click here for the Spanish version of this post/Haz clic aquí para la versión en español.]

We are excited to launch, in late February, the Library’s first crowdsourcing project dedicated to papers in languages other than English, Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents.

The Law Library of Congress invites you to help improve access to our unique collection of historic Spanish legal materials through the Library’s crowdsourcing platform, By the People (BTP). BTP is a virtual volunteering website where anyone with an internet connection can transcribe digitized Library collections to improve discoverability and use while engaging deeply with the materials.

Through a collaboration with our colleagues in the Digital Collections Management section, the Hispanic Division, and the African, Latin American, and Western European Division of the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, the Law Library will invite volunteers to transcribe, review, and tag the documents in our Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries) collection, with the goal of improving the overall ability to search and read the full Spanish, Latin, and Catalan texts.

The Library has already launched several successful campaigns where thousands of dedicated volunteers have transcribed nearly 100,000 pages from a range of historic documents, such as an entire diary of an American Civil War soldier, letters to President Abraham Lincoln, the letters, diaries and speeches of leading suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony and Mary Church Terrell, and many more collections.

As you may know from our previous posts, Herencia contains print and manuscript documents from Spain from the 15th through the 19th centuries. Most of the collection items are in Spanish, Catalan, and Latin. Royal decrees, papal bulls, legal opinions, judgments, and royal orders are among the large variety of materials contained in this collection.

With this campaign, our aim is to transcribe the documents word-for-word so that researchers can more easily discover these primary source materials. Your transcriptions will help identify names, places, and dates missing from the descriptions currently available, as well as other details of interest to scholars that are still waiting to be discovered in the untranscribed text. You can help us with this special undertaking by participating as a virtual volunteer. No specific time commitment or qualifications are required. You do not even need to create an account to transcribe, although reviewers do need to log in. Contribute at your own pace and at times that are convenient for you. Another important detail to note is that, while foreign language skills may be helpful, you do not need to read or speak Spanish, Latin, or Catalan to participate.

Preview the Herencia collection items now. The transcription work will happen on the BTP platform at To learn more about how the transcription process works, visit the Welcome Guide.

By the People is the Library’s crowdsourcing platform for transcription. The Law Library will soon invite volunteers to transcribe, review, and tag the documents in our Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries) collection (Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents)

In preparation for the first release phase of these documents later this month, we will offer two webinars to support volunteers working on this project. The first webinar will provide instruction on how to identify and transcribe the special scripts in the collection. The second webinar will be a primer on what to expect at our online/in-person transcribe-a-thon and how to hold a transcribe-a-thon on your own! In the spirit of the Herencia collection, these webinars, as well as other promotional materials and instructions, will be offered in Spanish and English. We encourage you to register in advance using the links below:

To celebrate the launch of this campaign, we will be hosting an on-site transcribe-a-thon here at the Library of Congress. On March 19, 2020, at 5 pm ET, we invite you to join us in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Laptops will be provided, as well as an exhibition of select documents from the Herencia collection.

Off-site but online? Volunteers are encouraged to participate on, and to join in the discussion on History Hub and Twitter (@LawLibCongress / @Crowd_LOC). We look forward to your many valuable contributions as we work to bring this rare collection to life!


  1. Interested in helping out!

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