Transcribe!

Welcome to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Digital Volunteer Transcription Project. You may start transcribing documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection by selecting one of the projects below and logging in with your Transcribe! username and password.

If you have not yet signed up but would like to become a Gilder Lehrman Digital Volunteer, please select a project from the list below and create a free account by clicking the “Create Account” option in the top menu bar and completing the form.

These typed transcripts will help make primary sources more accessible for students, teachers, and researchers. This volunteer opportunity is available to students who are at least thirteen years old.

Learn more about how to begin transcribing by watching this video:

TRANSCRIPTION PROJECTS

Bowman Gum Company’s “Fight the Red Menace” Trading Cards

This project contains the back of 48 trading cards that were originally included with gum from the Bowman Gum Company. Each card is a form of propaganda against the Communist Party at the height of the Cold War. Cards feature categories such as Persons of Interest, Events, Allies, Atomic Warfare, Characteristics of Communism, and Supporters of Communism. A selection of these documents will be featured in the upcoming Inside the Vault program on December 2.

Founding Era Newspapers

These newspapers are important sources of unique information about the Founding Era that we cannot find elsewhere. You can explore the “breaking news” of the American Revolution through contemporary newspapers. In addition to the political and military news of the day, these periodicals also published a wealth of other newsworthy items and advertisements that impacted the lives of Americans in the Founding Era. Transcribing these documents not only makes them more accessible, but it is also a great way to learn history from the people who experienced it.

Thomas Rogers Booth Diaries

A collection of diaries written by Thomas Rogers Booth from 1861 through 1889. Booth was a railroad engineer from New Castle, Delaware. Some entries mention his travel; however, these diaries have not been read, so the content is largely a mystery waiting for transcribers to discover.

Alaska Gold Rush Experiences

This project is composed of two sets of correspondence, one from Charles G. Horsfall to his family and the other from Edwin B. Sherzer to his wife, Clara. Both men traveled to Alaska after gold was discovered there in 1896. The letters were written starting in 1900.

Black Lives in the Founding Era

This selection of documents sheds light on what life was like for some Black Americans in the eighteenth century. Taken from more than 200 books, magazines, and newspapers, these texts—which are largely about enslaved people and the institution of slavery—provide insight into the experiences of some Black Americans during the founding era. This collection of documents will be regularly updated as more material is discovered within the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

This transcription opportunity is part of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Black Lives in the Founding Era project, which restores to view the lives and works of a wide array of African Americans in the period 1760 to 1800. We encourage you to read more about the project here.

Content warning: The language and content of these materials may be difficult for some readers. Many of these documents pertain to the institution of slavery and racism in the eighteenth century and demonstrate the often harsh circumstances that Black men, women, and children faced. Students should be advised that while some of these materials may be upsetting, topics such as enslavement and racial violence are essential to the study of US history.

Civil War Letters

This project provides a selection of Civil War era letters that detail lives and events from both the Union and Confederate perspectives.

Cyrena Hammond’s Diary

Cyrena Hammond’s diary offers a look into the daily life of a teenage girl during the Civil War. Hammond lived in New York and kept the diary in 1865. She writes on topics that range from the weather to attending Temperance meetings. While largely absent of entries regarding the war, Hammond does include an interesting entry regarding John Wilkes Booth’s mother and Lincoln’s assassination.

Sylvia Weiner’s Letters from the World War II Brooklyn Home Front

Sylvia Weiner’s letters offer a unique perspective of life on the home front during World War II. Sylvia describes her days in Brooklyn focusing on her job and her nights at home with various friends and family members. At the same time, she discusses financial difficulties and the struggle for gasoline and certain food products.