Volunteer To Do Transcriptions/Tagging Online For The U.S. National Archives (NARA); Become A “Citizen Archivist”

Hi Everyone!

While reading through the February/March 2020 AARP The Magazine, I discovered some information that I had not been aware of personally.  For those of us doing genealogical research, our lifeblood of data is material that often originates from someone transcribing original records that leads to the data becoming digitized, indexed and available online for our searches.

On Page 82 of the the February/March 2020 issue of AARP The Magazine, Catherine Alicia Georges, National Volunteer President of AARP,  wrote an article titled “Volunteer – Its Good for You”.  In the article, one of the volunteer activities mentioned was becoming a Citizen Archivist with our own U.S. National Archives (NARA).  And that is where I discovered that our National Archives  is seeking volunteers interested in transcribing or tagging material in the National Archives collection via an online interaction.

You can access the website that is mentioned in the AARP article below:

U.S. National Archives Volunteer Site For Becoming A Citizen Archivist

I had not been aware that such an activity existed.  I thought that in these special times of following social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic that I could mention this site for anyone to see what it is all about.

Obviously, many of you reading this may already be volunteering your online time to do transcriptions of records in the FamilySearch collection that ultimately winds up indexed and searchable online.  Such material helps our own research efforts because we can then discover records pertinent to our own family history.

Here are some links to some YouTube videos explaining and showing more about this Citizen Archivist project and how to connect to it:

Getting Started: Overview of the Citizen Archivist Dashboard

Citizen Archivist Dashboard Demo (2012) By NARA (1 Hour Presentation)

At the website of NARA where the Citizen Archivist information resides, there is an informative part that identifies the “missions” identified by NARA for those volunteering.  This is where you can see what some of the various projects are noted by NARA.

Here are some of them:

  • Alaska Road Commission Material
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech Files
  • Historical Films of the U.S. Army Signal Corps
  • Recommendations for Employment, 1861-1867
  • Award Cards, 1942-1963
  • America’s Scenic Byways
  • Amistad Court Case Records

Each of the above categories has larger descriptions of the project as well as being able to link to the records just to see them.  When you look at some of the records in need of transcription or tagging, you will find some nice easy one (Award Cards mentioned above are typed index cards of information connected to our military) as well as some challenging handwritten documents (Amistad Court Case documents).

You will encounter various documents in various appearances, some easier than others.  The good part is that it appears you can look at these documents online just to get a flavor of the difficulty level they might pose.  NARA gives a sample list of documents to transcribe for which they have categorized them under “Beginner”, “Intermediate” and “Advanced” skill levels needed to transcribe.

Check out the various links above, especially those to YouTube where you can visually get an idea of what this is all about.

I am so glad I happened to come across this information and can share it with you.

Hoping that everyone continues to be safe and follow all the directions of social distancing during our COVID-19 pandemic.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


One response to “Volunteer To Do Transcriptions/Tagging Online For The U.S. National Archives (NARA); Become A “Citizen Archivist”

  1. Thanks Tony. Looks like Billion Graves is asking for help too.


    Sent from my iPhone


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