Volunteer Vignette: A group effort!

In today’s guest post, Abby Shelton interviews a By the People volunteer, Kathleen, who has gone above and beyond! By the People is a crowdsourced transcription program launched in 2018 at the Library of Congress. Volunteer-created transcriptions are used to make digitized collections more accessible and discoverable on loc.gov. You can read our most recent Volunteer Vignette on the Signal here.


Abby: What motivates you to volunteer on the crowdsourced transcription program, By the People?

Kathleen: I love contributing to the group effort of preserving these important documents and making them accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live. The project feels especially urgent since some of the original documents are fragile and fading, and future generations may have difficulty reading cursive writing. And – bonus! – I get to learn about the history and lives of fascinating, diverse people.

Do you have any special skills or interests that relate to transcribing or reviewing documents?

My professional background is as a corporate paralegal, so I drafted, proofread, revised, and carefully read documents throughout my career, paying attention to detail. (Back in the day, these tasks were done manually.) I’ve been retired for nearly three years and thoroughly enjoy using my skills as a By the People reviewer.

What have been some of the most compelling or interesting documents you’ve come across? Why?

I discovered By the People in June 2020, after reading an article about Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden. A few weeks later, with Broadway closed due to the pandemic, I watched the filmed version of Hamilton that was made available on a streaming service. Imagine my delight when, soon after, I was reviewing transcriptions of George Washington’s Papers and came upon documents involving Alexander Hamilton, complete with his beautiful signature! Sweet serendipity.

Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, January 29, 1778. Source on loc.gov.

What advice do you have for new or first-time transcribers?

I suggest that you take time to read the How-To instructions in the Help Center as well as any FAQs. And, every so often, read the Quick Tips to refresh your memory.

Free space! What else would you like to add?

My sincere thanks to the By the People staff and to those who do the transcribing that I then get to review. It’s a joy to collaborate with all of you.

Volunteer Vignette: It’s fun to figure out the puzzle!

In today’s post, Abby Shelton interviews a By the People volunteer, Maya, who has gone above and beyond! By the People is a crowdsourced transcription program launched in 2018 at the Library of Congress. Volunteer-created transcriptions are used to make digitized collections more accessible and discoverable on loc.gov. You can read our most recent Volunteer Vignette on the Signal here. Abby: What motivates […]

‘By the People’ Turns 3: A Year in Review

It’s that time again: another By the People anniversary! To celebrate the third birthday of crowd.loc.gov, we thought we would share some highlights from this past year. Interested in our previous anniversary posts? Check out our Year 1 and Year 2 celebrations on the Signal. As a quick recap, By the People (BtP) is a volunteer engagement and collection enhancement program at the Library of Congress that […]

Summer 2021 Volunteer Survey: What Motivates ‘By the People’ Volunteers?

Today’s guest post is from Abby Shelton, a community manager for the By the People crowdsourced transcription program. Launched in 2018, By the People is a volunteer engagement and collection enhancement program at the Library of Congress that invites the public to explore and transcribe Library of Congress digital collections. When transcriptions are completed by […]

Using Crowdsourced Lincoln Transcriptions: An Interview with Jon White

By the People volunteers have helped the Library of Congress return over 52,000 transcriptions back to loc.gov, making the Library’s collections more discoverable and accessible for all. To celebrate the impact our virtual volunteers have on the Library and its patrons, we are highlighting some of the ways that scholars, educators, and community members have […]

Review With Us: By the People and Smithsonian Transcription Center team up for crowdsourced transcription

Today’s guest post is from Caitlin Haynes, the Program Coordinator for the Smithsonian Transcription Center in Washington, D.C. You can read Caitlin’s original post from the Smithsonian here.* During the month of August 2021, we teamed up with the community managers and volunteers at By the People, the Library of Congress’s crowdsourced transcription program, to focus […]

Reflecting on the Mary Church Terrell transcribe-a-thon with the Douglass Day team

In today’s post, By the People community manager Lauren Algee interviews members of the Douglass Day team about their February 2021 transcribe-a-thon for the Mary Church Terrell Papers. Launched in 2018, By the People is a volunteer engagement and collection enhancement program at the Library of Congress that invites the public to explore and transcribe Library of Congress digital […]