Crowdsourcing

Were you a History major in college who went into another profession but always wished that you could find a way to keep your hand in with historical research?

Check out the growing phenomenon known as “crowdsourcing,” in which museums, archives, libraries, and other organizations invite the general public to help transcribe and tag sources, edit articles, and otherwise contribute to history online. As a starting point, check out this new blog on historical crowdsourcing from some of the participants in a popular session on the topic at the recent American Historical Association meeting.

Or consider taking part in one of these major crowdsourcing projects related to U.S. history:

  • Just before Christmas, the U.S. National Archives launched its Citizen Archivist Dashboard. (H/T AHA Today) Sign up as a “citizen archivist” and you can tag primary sources like WWII propaganda posters, U.S. Information Agency films, photos of the 1963 Civil Rights March, letters from a Confederate spy, and a petition to block the annexation of Hawaii. Or transcribe files related to the Chinese Exclusion Act, a letter from Albert Einstein, or a report on the sinking of the Titanic. Or help edit Wikipedia articles related to National Archives collections.
  • As we noted this summer on our Facebook page, the University of Iowa Libraries are looking for volunteers to help transcribe their sizable collection of Civil War letters and diaries.

Please feel free to suggest any other crowdsourcing projects in the Comments section below. It’s a great way not only to continue your own education, but to make an important contribution to historical scholarship!

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