If you're joining in today's Letters To Lincoln Transcribe-a-thon, try out the getting started guide below! Also available for download and print here.
Let us know what you find and any questions you have in this discussion thread.
Read instructions in the crowd.loc.gov Help Center, also available from every transcription page.
Contact us if you get stuck:
- Twitter - @Crowd_LOC and #LettersToLincoln
- History Hub forum – https://historyhub.history.gov/community/crowd-loc
- Email – Crowd@loc.gov
Practice reading handwriting
- Explore the Timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s life: https://www.loc.gov/collections/abraham-lincoln-papers/articles-and-essays/abraham-lincoln-and-emancipation/timeline/
- One of the best ways to start to get familiar with handwriting is to read it! Find a completed page in Letters to Lincoln. Develop your transcription muscles by reading the transcribed words as you look at the handwritten version. A good practice item to pick is an envelope or a short letter.
Start transcribing – Try with a partner
- Pick a project, which are organized by years based on the Timeline
- Once you’re in a project, pick a letter and then a page. Some letters are brief and some are several pages. Look at the thumbnail to help you choose.
- Partner 1 reads the text aloud word-by-word as the other partner types the transcription. Try switching off duties between lines.
- Are you able to figure out some of the more difficult words using context clues?
- Look at the item title by clicking “View on loc.gov”. Look at the previous and next pages. What additional historical context do these give? Can you decipher any additional words now?
- Save your transcript. If you’re confident that you transcribed it all, submit it so another volunteer can review.
Review and tag
Register for an account to review or tag - both great ways to practice reading and synthesizing handwritten materials.
To review: Select a page to review. Carefully check the transcriber(s) have followed the instructions above. If yes, click “Accept”. If there are edits to make click “Edit” and make any changes. Save and submit the transcription.
To tag: Find a page that has been completely or partly transcribed. Come up with words or short phrases (2-3 words) to describe elements of a page that are not already recorded in the transcription. What research questions would this item help answer? What tags would help a student researching those topics to find this item on the Library’s website?
- Type what you see. Preserve original spelling, punctuation, and line breaks
- Use brackets [ ] around deleted, illegible or partially legible text
- Transcribe any words or letters you can't identify as ?
- Include insertions or text in the margins where you would read it in the text
- Save your work before you leave a page. Click “Submit” if you have transcribed everything on the page. Another volunteer will then analyze the transcription