How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it: Public Historians and Shared Authority on the Web


The National Archives and Records Administration runs the Citizen Archivist project. Using volunteers who register on the website, they are increasing online access to historical records. They crowdsource metadata and information through tagging, transcribing, and adding comments.

Registration is super easy. You just need to create a username and password and they email you a confirmation link and you can immediately start contributing.

They have a section called Citizen Archivist Missions that allow you to click a topic you’re interested in and it gives you a list of records pertaining to that subject for you to transcribe or tag. They have categories like: Marine Corps Activities in World War II and Korea, US Coast Guard Logbooks, Lists, Registered Product Labels, Records Relating to Property Releases, 1949-1951, Pentagon Papers, 1970s America, and Watergate. They also allow you to complete unfinished transcribed documents and provide featured records.

I went into the Registered Product Label section and transcribed a box of Treesweet Canned Lemon Juice, a Letter from the Examiner to the attorneys of Townsent, Loftus, and Abbett, and Mornings Tea Refreshing as the Dawn.

The lemon juice and tea were both product labels and the letter, was well, a letter. It was pretty easy to figure out how to add a transcription or tags but if you can’t figure out they provide a “how to” section.

I think this project is great. It allows for people to get involved in history and making it more accessible to the public. People who are kind of interested in history, or who work in the field, can work with documents they would not always have access too. I’d like to look at more of the written documents because I think that it can be used as good practice for reading older documents. They have a list of rules that need to be followed in order to contribute, so I am assuming that they have people monitoring transcriptions and comment sections making sure everything is running smoothly. Plus, the National Archives gets free labor!


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