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Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon

What is Douglass Day?

Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new & freely available resources for learning about Black history. The project frequently focuses on important Black women’s archives, such as Anna Julia Cooper (2020), Mary Church Terrell (2021), and plenty more to come in future years. Learn more about the history of Douglass Day.

In 2023, we will be transcribing and enriching the papers of Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893). She was one of the earliest Black women to edit a newspaper, serve as a Civil War recruiter, attend law school, and so much more. We are pleased to be partnering with the Archives of Ontario, Libraries and Archives Canada, and many others. Together we are presenting newly digitized and fascinating collections from Shadd Cary’s long and fascinating life.

What is a transcribe-a-thon?

A transcribe-a-thon is an event in which people gather in person or online to work simultaneously on a crowdsourcing project. 

Our main activity will be transcribing the words on a platform created by the Adler Planetarium called Zooniverse. We’ll help transcribe all sorts of documents from the Mary Ann Shadd Cary papers. No experience is needed. The platform is very beginner friendly!

How do I participate?

Everyone can participate! No prior experience or training is needed. If you'd like to take part in the library's transcribe-a-thon in person, come to the third floor of the Robert W. Woodruff Library on February 14th from 12-1:30. If you can't make it in person, pull up a computer, turn on the Internet, and follow the instructions below!  

  1. First, sign in here (even if you can only join us for a short time!)
  2. Then, watch this 7-minute video (this is from last year's project, but still points out key elements of the Zooniverse platform). It will introduce you to a free online platform for transcribing called Zooniverse, and it will give you step-by-step instructions for getting started. In addition open these instructions to have them on hand during the transcription process. It includes step-by-step instructions for doing several different kinds of transcription tasks in Zooniverse.
  3. Next, click to this site where you will find records of all kinds—letters, pamphlets, newspapers and more—ready to transcribe.  
  4. Enjoy! Transcribing is a fun, interactive way to learn, whether you work alone and interact mainly with the documents you transcribe, or you get together with others and treat transcribing as more social and collaborative work.