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Digital Transcription

Become a Virtual Volunteer!

The Museum has thousands of archival documents in its collections. We need your help transcribing these handwritten (and sometimes typewritten) materials so that the information held within them can be preserved, and better used by visitors, researchers, staff, and volunteers. Your help is appreciated!

If you are new to Museum volunteering, please take a moment to fill out our Volunteer Form (Click here for: online or PDF) so we can proudly count you properly in our Volunteer Corps!

You don’t have to be a history buff or an English major to do this, just a willingness to dig into some letters, diaries, log books, business records, speeches, etc. and do your best to decipher the writing.

If this sounds interesting to you and you have some free time on your hands, this is a fun and rewarding way to volunteer.

Please contact Leanne Hayden, Collections Manager, at to learn how you can help!

Tips for Transcribing

The Museum is thankful for the help of Historic New England, the University of Iowa’s Digital Library and the Smithsonian Transcription Center for help in assembling these tips.

  1. Type what you see. Transcribe grammar, punctuation, and spelling as they appear in the original document.
  2. Don’t worry about formatting. There is no need to indicate font style, underlined, or bold or italicized words.
  3. Transcribe all text. Please try to transcribe all elements of the document, including typewritten text that may appear in a table or a form, etc.
  4. Consider the context. If you’re having trouble with a word or passage, read “around” it and think about what a likely word would be, or look for other letters and spellings in the document that are similar.
  5. Indicate if you can’t decipher a word. If you are unsure of a word or phrase, please use [??], or your best guess followed by a question mark within brackets [Boston?], or [town?], or [name?].
  6. Brackets. Please don’t put anything in brackets unless there are brackets in the original or the text is unintelligible.
  7. Break between paragraphs or text blocks. Indicate a break between paragraphs or text blocks by typing the “Enter” key two times.