Scurlock Studios Registers Instructions

Thank you for being a digital volunteer! It’s very important that this work is performed in a standardized manner, so please make the effort to read and follow these instructions.


Our Transcription & Review Process




How the process works



We seek to balance quality and speed with our transcription process - which of course is still evolving as we continue to develop this service. At the moment, this is how our system works:

1) Anyone can start transcribing or add to a transcription of a document.

2) Once a volunteer decides they've "finished" and they are ready for review, a different volunteer (who must have an account on the site) can review the transcription and either send it back for edits, or complete the transcription.

3) The finished transcript is sent to the Smithsonian, where it may be used immediately, or undergo additional work.

Return to top




The Scurlock Photographic Studio Collection Registers



The Scurlock Photographic Studio was established by Addison Scurlock at the beginning of the 20th century and grew to become a premier photographic studio. Capturing social and cultural lives of African Americans in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, the father and sons team went on to photograph politicians and sitting presidents while documenting changes across American history in D.C. and beyond.>

From the catalog record for the Scurlock Studio Collection, 1904-1994: "As a young African American, Addison Scurlock studied photography with Washington photographer Moses P. Rice, and began using his parents' home as a photographic studio in 1905; in 1911 he opened his own studio. Later, sons George and Robert assisted him and worked as photographers in the studio. After Addison's death his sons continued to operate the studio until George retired in the 1970s and Robert died in 1994. Two other separate business enterprises were associated with the studio: The Capitol School of Photography, which was operated by Robert and George out of the studio, 1948-1952, and Custom Craft, a color laboratory service which opened as the school closed."

Learn more about the Scurlock Studio--the family's work, impact, and legacy--at this National Museum of American History site. View images from the Scurlock Studios shared weekly on the American History Museum Instagram account.





Navigating the Scurlock Studio Registers Page




This project consists of transcribing 10 columns. The first seven columns listed in the image, plus two other columns for which you will gather coordinates and a final column for notes and miscellaneous entries. The ledgers are to be transcribed row by row (or line by line). When entering data in the bottom-most row, a new row will be generated.

To navigate the Scurlock Studio Registers page, please transcribe columns from left to right, labeled according to the column title. Adjust the size of the image window to help you focus on each row as you transcribe. You can save frequently. Be sure to type in all of the information you can for the fields in each section before you click the box at the bottom that reads “Complete and Mark for Review.”


Return to top





Column Instructions



This project will transcribe and enter information into 10 columns, row by row (or line by line). When you enter data in the bottom-most row, a new row will be generated. Read on for details of how to transcribe each column.

Please transcribe into as many of the columns as possible; some of the pages vary in format or have minimal information. Do your best!

Columns 1: "Pages"

The “Pages” column can be recorded in ## - ## format. The page number will be found pre-printed at the top of the pages.

Column 2: “Photo #”

The “Photo #” or Photograph Number column describes the number assigned to the image. It may also be labelled as "Neg. No.," short for Negative Number. It will be the first number at the start of each row in the image. It may also be listed as "Dup" or duplicate. Please enter as written.

Column 3: “Client”

The “Client” column will capture information about the client, the person, or location that is the subject of the photo shoot. Please transcribe as written in the image - typically in Last name, First name format. Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.

Column 4: “Date”

The “Date” column contains information about the date of the photo shoot. Dates should be transcribed as YYYY/MM/DD or YYYY/MM if applicable.

Column 5: “Color/Format”

The Color/Format field will capture information from the color column, as well as the format column. The location of this information may vary across pages in the ledgers. Examples from the "Color column" include "b/w," "color," and "3/15 dup". The "Format" column gathers information about the shoot and the resulting prints. Please append this information to the color information and transcribe both in Column 5. Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.


Washington, D.C. and Locations

Washington, D.C. is arranged into quadrants: NW, NE, SW, SE. The Scurlock Studios were located in N.W. Washington, D.C. in areas of the city now known as U Street and Shaw. Nuances of D.C. street names include the phonetic spelling of streets that might otherwise be misinterpreted: I street is Eye St, Q street is Que St, T street is Tea Street and there is no J street. These details may help you as you search for coordinates; please enter 5 decimal points at a minimum.

Column 6: “Location”

Column 6 designates the location of the photo shoot.

This field can be transcribed directly. Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.

Column 7: “Lat”

To determine the "Lat" or latitude, please use the location entered in Column 7 to search for the geocoordinates of the location using LatLong.net

You can also verify using Google Maps

HOW TO ENTER: In this example, 3615 Newark St NW (Washington, DC), you would copy these coordinates: geo:38.934981,-77.071568 and enter 38.934981 in the Lat column.

Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.

Column 8: “Long”

To determine the "Long" or longitude, please use the location entered in Column 8 to search for the geocoordinates of the location using LatLong.net

You can also verify using Google Maps

HOW TO ENTER: In this example, 3615 Newark St NW (Washington, DC), you would copy these coordinates: geo:38.934981,-77.071568 and enter -77.071568 in the Lat column.

Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.

Column 9: “Order”

This column designates the order number of the photo shoot. If present, this information will be found on the far right hand column of the ledger page. Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.

Column 10: “Notes”

The “Notes” column contains additional information on the page.

If there are any annotations or other notes that relate to the whole page, please note that in this column on the first row of data. It can be transcribed directly. You may also leave a note regarding coordinates or other information gathered for columns 7 & 8. Where a “ (ditto mark) appears, please copy the data from the record above.


Return to top

Ready to Get Started?



Have questions? Please get in touch.



Return to top