Transcription Center News

The Latest News

What's happening lately at the Smithsonian Transcription Center?

Read more news below about the projects, volunteers, and Transcription Center activity that are occurring around the world.

Honoring Black History Month 2018

This year we examine the role of religious institutions and traditions in African American culture. Help us preserve Black history and get started on these projects from the Anacostia Community Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Click here to begin exploring. 


A Historic Celebration of Frederick Douglass


Born to an enslaved family in 1818, Frederick Douglass never knew his actual birthday. So, he chose his own date: February 14.

This year we honored the 200th birthday of the abolitionist and orater by partnering with the Colored Conventions Project to co-host a multi-city transcribe-a-thon for the Freedmen's Bureau records, part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The event, which was livestreamed from 12 pm till 3 pm Eastern Time, featured representatives from the Smithsonian and the Colored Conventions Project, live musical performances, and a dramatic reading of Douglass' speech from the 1883 national Colored Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. And yes -- depending on where you were, there was plenty of cake.

But the best part? Collectively, we transcribed nearly 800 pages and reviewed and approved over 400. Within the span of four hours, 600 new volunpeers registered to help digitally preserve the Smithsonian's collections! Thank you all!

Click the flyer below to view a recording of our massive celebration.


Even if you weren't transcribing with us from one of the 60+ locations across North America and abroad, you can click here to help transcribe our Freedmen's Bureau records at any time, day or night, rain or shine. 

Notice anything different in the top menu? Introducing our new SEARCH feature!


We're thrilled to announce a brand new SEARCH feature!

Ever since we launched the Transcription Center in June 2013, we've been using your feedback to constantly improve the experience. Lost your place and need to revisit a project? Doing research? Just plain curious? Explore the search feature and see what you can discover. And, yes, you can filter by museum and archive!

Hanging out with the Smithsonian-Harvard Center for Astrophysics

On December 18, we hosted a Google Hangout with Project PHaEDRA of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics' Wolbach Library to learn about the progress of the transcriptions of the logbooks of Harvard's early women astronomers. We talked about the historical contributions of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Cecilia H. Payne, and Annie Jump Cannon. Why is it important to transcribe these logbooks? What are the next steps? Watch:


Winter Updates

In January 2017, we welcomed 100 new volunpeers who joined us in transcribing and reviewing nearly 4,000 pages. As of January 30, our cumulative total was 3,124 completed projects, and 351,354 pages. Our homepage is constantly being updated with the latest numbers, so check back periodically.

During January, we hosted over 8,333 visits from around the world; visitors stopped in from Clarksville, Tenn., Cape Coral, Fla., Wellington, New Zealand, Lagos, Nigeria, London, and Berlin. On average, visiting volunteers explored 12 pages and shared over 12 minutes of their time with us. TC visitors logged about 69,750 unique pageviews.

Every week, our participating museums and archives teams share new projects, as we continue to invite new volunteers to these adventures. We are happy to support new visitors - and you! - in efforts to make Smithsonian collections more accessible. From improving searches associated with history and art objects to adding metadata to biodiversity specimens records, we are so excited to have you with us. Please let us know how we can support you as you help improve access to collections.


Stories from the Collections

The Freedmen's Bureau Papers

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has recently launched the Freedmen's Bureau Papers, starting with Bureau offices in North Carolina.

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 explore in more detail the Freedmen's Bureau's history and the ways the public is helping historical and genealogical research at this overview from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Freedmen's Bureau team has been hosting transcribe-a-thons with partners at the University of Maryland. Learn more about these events in May 2017 and November 2016.


Provenance and Proof: Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, General Correspondence

Join the Archives of American Art to transcribe and review this unparalleled resource for provenance researchers. These projects include letters with art dealers and galleries and are selected from the General Correspondence subseries of the Jacques Seligmann & Co. records. These sets of records are among the world's foremost resources for provenance research. The collection documents the business dealings of international art galleries which were active for nearly a century, and contains invaluable information for tracing the provenance of works of art which passed through the Jacques Seligmann & Company holdings.

Learn more about the methodologies of provenance research within the Seligmann & Co. records. Then, join us to transcribe some!


Monthly Updates


Explore our monthly accomplishments as shared in our monthly newsletter.



    Join Us!

    As always, we welcome volunteers from around the world as we take on this challenge. With your help, we can make our vast collections in art, history, and science more accessible to anyone.

    Start Transcribing Now!

    You can browse through projects and find something new each week.


    Get in Touch


    Thank you for your interest in supporting and improving the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Have questions, want to share your discoveries, or reflect with your story of learning with the Transcription Center? Please contact us here.

    You can also tweet questions to @TranscribeSI.

    This project is a product of many many passionate, creative, and dedicated individuals who have contributed subject matter expertise, technical solutions, content and design, and much more. We can continue to improve through your feedback.