Transcription Volunteer

The Smithsonian Transcription Center seeks to engage the public in making our collections more accessible. We're working hand-in-hand with digital volunteers to transcribe historic documents and collection records to facilitate research and excite the learning in everyone.


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Why Does Transcription Matter?

Together, we are discovering secrets hidden deep inside our collections that illuminate our history and our world.

What Collections are Available?


The Transcription Center opened in July 2013 with thousands of documents across 31 projects from eight Smithsonian museums, archives, and libraries. We have grown with the help of volunteers to include over 3,000 projects from fourteen participating museums, archives and libraries. Explore projects available for transcription and review:


Field Notebooks

Collected by the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Archives, these notebooks include botanical collecting in China, photographs from Brazil, ornithological observations, documenting fur seals in the Bering Sea, the Smithsonian-Roosevelt Expedition, and much more. New field notes added regularly!


Art and Language

Join us to transcribe diverse languages, explore an artist’s diary--or both! What will you discover as you turn the pages, cards, and manuscripts from the Smithsonian's archival collections? Join in transcribing now!


Unlocking Biodiversity Specimens

The US Herbarium, housed inside the National Museum of Natural History, holds some 5M plant specimens. Along with the Department of Entomology, the Department of Botany is digitizing its collections. Transcription of the handwritten collection labels will make these incredible historical collections available to researchers around the world. Check in with the Department of Botany - more specimens sheets coming soon!






Freedmen's Bureau

The Bureau of Refugees, Freemen, and Abandoned Lands, often referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established on March 3, 1865. The duties of the Freedmen's Bureau included supervision of all affairs relating to refugees, freedmen, and the custody of abandoned lands and property. Please help us transcribe these records and learn more about the experiences of formerly enslaved men and women in North Carolina during the Reconstruction Era.


Join Us!


Calling researchers, educators, citizen scientists and history buffs: We are actively seeking volunteers to join this world-wide effort. With your help, we can make our vast collections in art, history, and science more accessible to anyone with a curious spirit.

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Who's Behind this Project?


To get in touch with questions, suggestions or just thoughts about the Transcription Center, please contact us here.

This project is a product of many many passionate, creative, and dedicated individuals who have contributed subject matter expertise, technical solutions, ideas & feedback, content and design, and much much more. Learn more about the organizations and groups involved: