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How To Begin

To begin transcribing, you will need a user account for this site. Please write to transcribe-g@mtholyoke.edu to request your account, and we will respond by creating an account for you during our open hours, Monday through Friday between 9:30am and 4:30pm EST.

Basic Transcription Instructions

We gratefully acknowledge the awesome and inspirational work done by the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Iowa Libraries, and Wellesley College with their own crowdsourced transcription projects. Their projects truly inspired our project, and we have liberally borrowed from them in our documentation and project planning.

from the Smithsonian Institution's Transcripton Center Tips site


Our main goal is to create text that mirrors the document. Write down words and paragraphs as you see them. Keep words in their original spelling, even if it is technically “wrong”. Find a way to include any notes the author may have written on the top, bottom or sidebar. One exception: if a word is hyphenated because it goes across two lines, type it out as one word.


It’s ok if you don’t have time to complete the entire transcription. Even adding a sentence or two makes it easier for the next person to work on it. Often two or more volunteers need to work together to finish a transcription.


Please make a note using curly brackets { } like this: {illegible} or simply {?} Save your work and you can continue transcribing the rest of the item.


The site does not automatically save your editing work so please remember to stop every few minutes and click on the "Save transcription" button under the editing text box. Your additions and changes will show up underneath as you go, so this is a great way to check your work and formatting. Also, remember to save before you move along to a new document!

Formatting Guide


Please indicate strikethrough or underlined, when appropriate, in angle brackets before and after the word or phrase that has been struck out or underlined. Like this...

Strikethrough example:
I really <s>love</s> adore writing lab reports for Chemistry class.

Underlined example:
I really <u>adore</u> writing lab reports for Chemistry class.


If you want to indicate an indentation, use a colon. You can use multiple colons to show a larger indentation. Like this...

::Mary Lyon


When you reach the bottom of a page, hit return and write ----
Then hit return again and continue transcribing the next page.

I really adore writing lab reports for Chemistry class.
I have a lab report due tomorrow.


When you see a sketch or picture on the page, please use the word “image” placed in curly brackets: {image}. Example: {image – girl holding baseball bat}. This may also include an envelope or postmark, which you can also indicate in curly brackets. Example: {postmark} SOUTH HADLEY MASS. NOV 8 1837


If you see handwritten notes that appear to have been inserted at a later date, please write them into the transcription box using a ^ and curly brackets { } to contain the handwritten text.

I really adore writing lab reports ^ {I also enjoy the labs themselves} for Chemistry class.

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