Update! Volunteers completed transcription of all of "This Hell-upon-earth of a prison", Samuel Gibson's diary and letter, in less than 36 hours!*  We then challenged you to review "Disabled but not disheartened" and volunteers jumped in to move 371 pages to completed!  Incredible work!  We hope that you'll share your reflections and takeaways from these campaigns in the comments below. 

Stretch goal, "Disabled but not disheartened":

So, "what's next?" you ask. With the holiday still a few days away, we hope you're up for a 2nd Veteran's Day challenge!

Let's complete all 1,572 pages needing review in the "Civil War Soldiers: 'Disabled but not disheartened'" Campaign by the end of Veterans Day. This is a lot of material, but you all have shown yourselves to be an incredible community, and we think you can do it! This campaign features entries from the left-handed penmanship competition created by a reformer, poet, editor, and clergyman named William Oland Bourne for Union soldiers who lost their right arms in the conflict. Reviewing these pages you'll encounter soldiers' personal accounts of battle and loss, as well as their lives after the war, when they trained themselves to write left-handed and returned to civilian life and work.

This was one of our original campaigns launched in October 2018. It would be amazing to round out the review of these letters by wounded soldiers, so that we could publish the full set of transcriptions back on loc.gov. That would be a lot to be proud of, and grateful for, this Veterans Day.

Join in by visiting "Disabled but not disheartened"

Progress: 371 pages completed! (since challenge launch 11/8, 9am EST)


Not started

In progress

In review


Thursday 11/7,  2pm EST031,5723,572

Friday 11/8, 9am EST

Friday 11/8, 5pm EST001,4273,720
Saturday 11/9, 8:30 am EST021,3713,774
Saturday 11/9, 6:15 pm EST021,3503,795

Sunday 11/10, 9:00 am EST

Sunday 11/10, 5:00 pm EST021,3043,841
Monday 11/11, 9:00 am EST021,2903,855
Monday 11/11, 5:15 pm EST021,2303,914
Tuesday 11/12, 12:00 pm EST011,2033,943

Original challenge, "This hell-upon-earth of a prison":

“Today is the holy sabbath: but there is no sabbath here; Oh Liberty; Law & Order! Thou canst not be appreciated till thou art once lost”

So wrote Union soldier Samuel J. Gibson in the depths of his agony while held as a prisoner of war at the notorious Andersonville prison camp in Georgia. Gibson’s diary of 1864-1865 documents part of his military service, capture, experience at Andersonville, and ultimate release. Today we are publishing the 200-page diary, as well as a letter Gibson wrote to his wife as "This Hell-upon-earth of a Prison."  We launch this new campaign to challenge you, the By the People community, to completely transcribe and review Gibson's writings by the end of Veteran's Day (November 11th). Once all of the pages have been reviewed we can publish the transcriptions back on loc.gov where they’ll will make these important documents fully searchable.

Documents such as these connect us all to the past, but for some people this connection is personal. Several of Samuel Gibson’s descendants are alive today, including his great granddaughter, Peggy. Read her experience of learning about the diary here.

This week we invite you to engage deeply with Gibson’s writings, and to treat your volunteer service as a chance to think about the veterans in your own life and your own history. We'll track daily numbers here, so check in to see progress toward our goal!

If you’re new to review, read through our How-To Review guide before getting started.

Join in by visiting "This Hell-upon-earth of a prison": Samuel J. Gibson's Andersonville Diary



Not started

In progress

In review


Monday 11/6, 9am EST90000

Monday 11/6 6:30pm EST

Tuesday 11/7 9:10am EST17082
Tuesday 11/7 1:10am EST01089

*As of 11/12 one Gibson page remains "in progress" to to a user page reservation.

  • Hi Sarah,

    I somehow missed this post when you made it but am very grateful to at least be seeing it now. Thank you for your contribution to this challenge and for sharing your story. Experiences like yours are why we do this!  I I hope you've kept up the transcribing and are still making new serendipitous discoveries! 



  • So Lauren, I have you to thank for one of the most inspiring experiences of my year. 

    I was browsing the diary on nov 12, and was looking for the page where they become prisoners of war - curious to see the action of the days before, and the change from the mundane pickets and cold, to the new role of prisoner of war.  I must have been just lucky, as when I got to that page (yes page 28), it was only partially transcribed, and open.  "I can do this!" I thought, and so my very first transcription with your projects was on a page that I can only describe as chilling.  The final words are "We are prisoners of war." 

    I shan't forget this - ever.

    I am a librarian in an all girls high school.  I have talked about nothing else for 24 hours, and am hoping our history teacher will be inspired enough to have the girls work on one of the suffragette projects.  What an amazing way to get involved in the reality that is history.

    Thank you for your work on these projects, and the serendipity that it was that page that had been stuck. 

    (Sarah Murphy)

  • Hi Melissa,

    Yes we noticed that as well.  We're guessing that someone somewhere has open on their computer, but has forgotten about it, sadly making it so no one else can jump in to finish it!  We're trying a few different ways to "cancel" that computer's "reservation" of that page and hopefully can free it up to be completed soon!

  • Hi, Lauren.  Page 28 of Gibson's Diary seems to be stuck in limbo? I tried several times over the weekend to transcribe or review it.  The same message pops up that another transcriber is working on the page.  But, it should be complete by now.  

  • Thanks for jumping in, Melissa!  I've reopened those pages.