While at home, transcribe historical documents online

7 tips for working from home

The Library of Congress and National Archives are looking for volunteers to transcribe documents in their collections

If you’re a history buff and looking for something to do while at home, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Smithsonian Institute may have just the thing for you.

The entities are looking for volunteers to transcribe historical documents in their collections.

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Without leaving the house, volunteers can dive in to the projects. Since a lot of the documents are in cursive or have been smudged or faded with time, some technology is not able to convert the documents to digital text.

"A lot of these materials have been digitized and available to the public before through our databases. But just because you have a diary that was written by Mary Henry doesn't mean that you're able to search for and locate everything that she said in that diary," Caitlin Haynes, coordinator at the Smithsonian's Transcription Center, told AARP.

Suzanne Isaacs, who works at the National Archives, said part of the challenge is finding volunteers who are able to read cursive, which is why they are often looking for seniors to volunteer.

"We need them to help us because a lot of kids today and younger people don't know how to read cursive," she told AARP.

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If you want to volunteer, more information can be found here:

The Library of Congress: In addition to transcribing, volunteers can also register to add keywords to documents, which helps improve the search capabilities. The library is also looking for volunteers to review, edit and complete transcriptions.

National Archives, Citizen Archivists: Volunteers can register to tag, transcribe and add comments to the records in the archives.

Smithsonian Transcription Center: After volunteers transcribe and review documents, a Smithsonian staff member approves the work. Additionally, the Smithsonian is looking for volunteers who can transcribe historical audio files.