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Leonard Bernstein is seated at the piano, surrounded by his wife and children. Everyone is looking at the sheet music on the piano and singing.
Leonard Bernstein with Felicia, Jamie, Alexander and Nina. Holiday card, year unknown. Box 269, Leonard Bernstein Collection. Music Division, Library of Congress.

Transcribing Maestro: By the People Highlights the Leonard Bernstein Collection

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If you’ve seen Bradley Cooper’s new Leonard Bernstein biopic, “Maestro,” and you find yourself desperately curious to learn more about Bernstein and his world, then have we got a project for you!

The Library’s By the People crowdsourced transcription program launches our newest campaign this week: Leonard Bernstein: Writings By, From, and To. Drawn from material accessible in the Music Division’s Leonard Bernstein Collection Digital Collection, the new campaign invites you, the public, to create an account and transcribe handwritten and typescript correspondence, lyric sheets, note, speeches, outlines, and scripts from Bernstein’s own papers. Ultimately, once the campaign is completed, the writings in the Bernstein Digital Collection will be keyword searchable and feature downloadable transcriptions. Questions about the material or the project? Our reference librarians are ready to answer your Ask a Librarian emails.

So get into those transcriptions! Get to know Bernstein, his family, and colleagues better in spending time with these materials, and let us know your favorite discoveries. Volunteers have already transcribed over 2,000 pages, and there are thousands more waiting for you. For an added glimpse into the Bernstein Collection, watch this video of Senior Music Specialist Mark Horowitz showcasing highlights from Bernstein’s extraordinary papers!

Comments (6)

  1. I would like to participate in this project.
    How do I volunteer and what do I do?

    • Hi Marianne, it’s wonderful that you want to participate! Read instructions here: . You can make an account if you want to track your work, but you can also transcribe without creating an account. Let us know if you still have questions. Enjoy!

  2. I don’t see a link for information about transcribing the collection. There is a response to Marianne Thomas’s comment, but the link does not show up. I’m interested in taking part in this project.

    • Deepest apologies for the flub on my last comment reply – paste must not have worked and I missed it! Check out these links for info on getting started with By the People and more details on how to transcribe.

  3. I’m happy to say that I just registered to be a volunteer for this project, helping in my small way the institution that has become so important to me professionally and personally. In my two visits to the Performing Arts Reading Room (so far) from the west coast, I have seen and scanned things that are absolutely life-changing for me. And you people there are absolutely the best. So I’ll help this project in any way that I can. Cheers, and please give my best to Loras and everyone there!

    • Thanks, Jenn! We’re so happy you’ve been able to visit the Reading Room in person, and that you’ve gained so much from your research here. Come back soon!

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