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2020

Today we launched "Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents," featuring pages written in Spanish, Latin, and Catalan between 1300 and 1800. Our aim is to transcribe the documents word-for-word so that researchers can more easily discover these materials. This Law Library Collection is our first entirely non-English campaign! It includes papers pertaining to laws, statutes, instructions, and decrees of Spanish kings, government officials, and the Catholic Church, including the Spanish Inquisition and papal bulls. Aside from English language titles and short descriptions created by the Library, we know little about the texts or the topics, individuals, and significant historical moments documented within the collection. Most names, places, geographical regions, and other details that would be of interest to scholars are still waiting to be discovered. Legal documents shed light on what societies and individuals value, and the struggles, hopes, and triumphs of people across the societal spectrum.

Delve into European history and practice your skills reading and transcribing Spanish, Latin and Catalan as you help the Law Library of Congress uncover the mysteries of this collection. Remember, you can contribute at your own pace and at times that are convenient for you. While foreign language skills are helpful, you do not need to read or speak Spanish, Latin, or Catalan to participate.

Read more about this new Campaign in English on the Law Library blog, and in Spanish on the Hispanic Division blog.

We've created some special resources to help you get started with this campain, including 2 webinars: How and Why to Transcribe Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents on Thursday, February 27th, and How to Host a Transcribe-a-thon on Thursday March 12th. These webinars will be offered in separate English and Spanish versions. Choose your language when you navigate to the sign up page using the links above. You can also find some helpful guides for transcribing Spanish and Latin on our resources page.

Finally, we hope you'll join our Herencia transcribe-a-thon on March 19th! You can take part online from anywhere, or in-person here at the Library of Congress! Our on site event coincides with a National Book Festival Presents program featuring Jeffrey Rosen who will discuss his new book Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty and Law with Dahlia Lithwick, a senior editor at Slate. Learn more about the virtual and in-person event and register here.

"I felt I was lynched many times in mind and spirit. I grew up in a world of white power . . .”

These words rock us with their hard truth. They were written by Rosa Parks sometime after her arrest in 1955 for defying a Montgomery, Alabama, bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a white passenger. They can be found among her autobiographical writings in the Rosa Parks Papers. Today, February 4th, Parks' birthday, we're launching these and other materials from her collection https://crowd.loc.gov/campaigns/rosa-parks-in-her-own-words/?loclr=eacwdas "Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words". The pages include letters to and from friends and family, records about her activism and lifelong fight for equal rights, programs from events that featured or honored her, and a small number of miscellaneous items, including her "Featherlite Pancake Recipe" with a secret ingredient.

We hope transcribing Rosa Parks’s writings, notes, and statements will bring you insight into her upbringing and family, her arrest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the pernicious impact of racism and Jim Crow segregation. Parks was a powerful writer whose strong words and keen insights hit home. Many of these writings and notes are in draft form. She wrote on scraps of paper, often using the backs of incoming letters, event and sermon programs, and envelopes. The purpose of these writings isn’t always clear. Many were notes for speeches. Some may have be been intended for memoirs long before she wrote Rosa Parks: My Story (1992). Parks may have used writing as a way to process her arrest, the boycott, and their aftermath. Most of her writings are undated, although dates can be inferred from the dated letters and programs on which she wrote and from stationery letterhead. Many are featured in the Library's current exhibition (also titled Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words), which inspired this campaign.

Your transcriptions may lead to new discoveries about when and why some of these notes and drafts were written. One of the great archival myths is that archivists have time to read every word, untie every knot, and solve every mystery in a collection. They don’t, and unresolved mysteries abound. These documents have only been available for a large public audience for a few years, and to date they have not been transcribed and made word-searchable online, which is what you're doing when you take part in any By the People Campaign. What will you discover?

Explore the Rosa Parks Campaign