Version 2

    This issue was mentioned in another thread, but I am bringing it up as its own thread so it can be seen by all (not just the people following the other thread).


    It was mentioned that translations into English would be useful.  How would one add this to the transcription?  Would you transcribe in the original language first, then type in the English translation?  Also, would you want to set the translation off in some way with brackets or asterisks?  I am willing to do this, but only after I know the correct way of doing it.


    Hi Julianne,


    The Community Mangers are having a meeting today about how best to capture translations, and hope to come up with a plan that we can then take to some of the curatorial specialists in the Library. We hope to have a firm answer before too long, but I can't be precise as to when. You'll have seen in the other threads that we've suggested interim measures such as typing ==translation== below the transcription, and providing a translation underneath. This instruction may change, so if you'd rather wait for clarity, watch this space.




    Hello By the People community!


    As promised, the Community Managers took up this knotty question of translation with other staff here at the Library. We discussed the pros and cons of encouraging volunteers to translate in addition to transcribing, and I volunteered to communicate our decision here on History Hub. Before I do though, I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the discussion so far and to everyone who has taken the time to translate and to ask questions about the process. I hope I am tagging everyone who has participated, but apologies if I've missed anyone! Julianne Mangin suzanne piecuch Ethan Kent Henry Rosenberg Beth Graham Lauren Algee.




    Our discussions around translation began with this thoughtful post by Julia Gabbard Ledbetter about how to deal with a letter written phonetically. It seemed to us that if our goal was to make documents legible to screen readers we would want to translate this document and others like it, as well as transcribe it as it originally appeared. This discussion led to further conversation between volunteers, Lauren and me about whether or not to translate other languages. What we've realized is that there is a difference between phonics and languages other than English: many screen readers can read or be trained to read other languages, so there is less need to translate documents into English from an accessibility perspective. We of course see the value of translation, but have decided it is too far out of the scope of our intended project, which is to make the original texts searchable.


    Decision and reasons:


    We ask that volunteers not translate directly into the interface from now on. These are our reasons.


    • Translation is subjective and no two people will transcribe something the same way
    • This can lead to disagreements among volunteers and require arbitration, but we do not currently have the staff for this project who can offer expertise about translation. The Library of Congress has this expertise, but we do not currently have experts allocated to this project.
    • Our goal for By the People is to get transcriptions of documents, and translation is a separate and different task we want to think through carefully. We may one day create a translation project on or another web application, but we're not ready to offer that yet.
    • The Library of Congress website does not have a lot of searchable transcribed text yet. More work needs to be done to understand how best to incorporate searchable translations into


    What to do if you've translated something or come across a translation during the review process:


    If you can, and want to, and have time, please share the links of all the pages you've translated so far by adding the web addresses in a comment on this thread. These will help us study how (and whether) to build a separate translation project in the future or find a way of building translation into the interface.


    If translation is what makes you get out of bed in the morning, then please feel free to share your translations here and keep the discussion going, but be aware that the community managers will largely leave you all to discuss this among yourselves for now.


    If you come across a translation in that has not been accepted yet, please copy and paste the link to this page here on History Hub, and copy and paste the translation here as well. Please also remove the translations from the transcriptions. I anticipate that some volunteers will concerned or upset that other people are deleting their work, even if they are also moving that work over here. It must be frustrating to have worked so hard on something, and then for someone else to move it. But I also hope volunteers will understand that this will allow us as a community to create the most consistent data in the long run. We really value your time and intellectual endeavor, and hope that no work will be lost, just transferred from one site to another.


    Thanks everyone in advance for your hard work,

    Victoria, on behalf of the By the People project team


    Thank you for the detailed explanation!


    I thrive on knowing the whys and wherefores, because I've been known to not follow directions -- not from obstinacy, but from not understanding the reasoning. I am the queen of TMI, both in giving too much detail and in liking to receive it.


    And I appreciate the allowance and affirmation I find in this crowd. Stuff like, "if translation is what makes you get out of bed in the morning..."


    I'll tell you what makes my workday stomachable: Volunteering here.




    Hello, Victoria (Dr. Van Hyning) -- and others who will read this post.


    I haven't actually done much in the way of translations since the possibility of such was first brought up (and I haven't been active virtually at all since I last posted to History Hub (a while ago).


    I have only completed translation on a very short document -- the note from William L. Dayton (then Minister of the US to France) inquiring about construction of armored/ironclad ships in Europe in 1863 -- now denoted as "Needs Review".


    (Subsequent Internet research by me has led me to believe that Dayton was in fact inquiring about the possibility of ironclads being built in France for the Confederate States of America -- and I (if I recall correctly from a few weeks ago, they were being built -- and the US Government received a tip about this at some point.)



    The document -- and my work -- can be found via this link:…


    (Continuation of Comment/post  after I couldn't figure out how to finish (or even revise) my draft:)



    Separate parts of the document/of my translation may be found by clicking on "#1" and "#2" after using the link I posted.




    I have also posted translation for the 2nd Image of a document sent by someone who signed the document "L. Placide Canonge Jr" to Confederate representative Pierre A. Rost in 1862. (This work is now denoted "Needs Review".)



    (As I hope to mention in another thread at History Hub (the one in which I noted that Library of Congress transcription of the "last" name of the sender as "Canarge" and of the intended recipient as "Rust" was incorrect) , further Internet research by me into the Canonge family indicates that what the writer says about his father and mother seems to indicate that his father was not Louis/"L." Placide Canonge Senior [Shrug]....)


    I have partly translated the content of the 1st Image (Image "#1") of this document (which is why it is still denoted as being "In Progress"); I don't know if I should remove what I have done with the translation so far or not.




    A link to the entire (2-page) document and to my work (so far) on it may be found here:



    (I hope I did that right.)




    Signing off until I get a reply as to what to do with my not-yet-completed translation/work on Image 1 of the document signed "L. Placide Canonge Jr",





    Hi Ethan,  Please apply Victoria's guidance on moving translations to History Hub and removing them from the transcription, whether completed or partial.  Thanks!


    Dear Lauren:


    I have done virtually no work at Crowd/By The People (and have done very little looking at History Hub) since I got involved in discussions at History Hub about translation; I'm not certain that I will be even doing what you asked me to do concerning (Dr.) Victoria's "guidance" on moving my translations (beyond what I have already done in posting URLs for the interfaces where they can be found -- much less continuing to do work at Crowd/By The People or participating here.


    (I have been somewhat-busy doing transcription and Tagging involving the National Archives Catalog, and I haven't been in any discussions about those activities -- nor "stuck" (as with the Canonge/pseudo-Canonge letter addressed to Justice/Confederate envoy Rost ) not knowing how to decipher the supposed maiden name of the writer's mother.)


    I will see if I can comply by February 25th concerning "moving" my translations to History Hub (if I do that, I will try to complete the translation of the Canonge/pseudo-Canonge document's page 1/Image 1 there) ; I will see if I can get myself to do more work at Crowd/By The People and/or to try to participate in History Hub.


    Best Wishes,





    Hi Ethan,


    That's wonderful that you're also contributing to the National Archives! Don't feel pressured to move over your transcriptions by a particular date or indeed to participate on By the People. You're welcome here anytime, and we value your contributions, but there's no pressure. You do whatever makes you happy.


    -Victoria and Lauren


    This document was generated from the following discussion: Translating documents into English