Get started

Welcome to By the People! Help us transcribe Library of Congress documents. Volunteer-created transcriptions will be published on to improve search, access, and discovery of these pages from history.

Documents are transcribed and reviewed by volunteers. Review ensures transcriptions are whole and accurate. It takes at least one volunteer to transcribe a page and at least one other volunteer to review and mark it complete. Some complex documents may pass through both transcription and review many times before they are accepted as complete.

Let's get started!

  1. Read the instructions on transcribing and reviewing transcriptions by other volunteers. You can get back to this guide and all instructions at any time by clicking "Help" at the top of any page. See abbreviated instructions while transcribing by clicking "Quick Tips" below the page image.
  2. Create an account (if you want!) Anyone can transcribe, you don’t need an account, but registered volunteers can also review and tag pages. Make your account here.
  3. Choose what to transcribe. Explore our campaigns featuring many different Library of Congress collections. When you find a group of documents that looks interesting, click through to a page. To transcribe, look for one labeled "Not Started" or "In Progress". Use the colored status filters to narrow down to just those pages.
  4. Once you've chosen a page, transcribe what you can into the box on the right. Transcribe lines in the order they appear and preserve line breaks. If you see multiple pages, transcribe all of the content in the order it appears. Have questions about transcribing something tricky? Revisit the instructions.
  5. Click “Save” as you go to save work in progress. If you decide a page isn't for you, that's ok! You can move on, just make sure you click “Save” before moving on. Other volunteers will be able to help out with a page you started.
  6. Click "Save" and “Submit for review” if you have transcribed a whole page and think it is ready to be reviewed. If you are transcribing anonymously (without being logged into an account) you will be prompted to verify you are not a bot.
  7. After you've transcribed a few pages, try out review! Review is the crucial final step before transcriptions are marked ready for publication. All registered volunteers can review other people’s transcriptions. Learn more by reading our How to review instructions.
  8. Try out tagging. Tagging is an experimental feature. Read our tagging instructions then try it out on any page!

Have a question or comment about a campaign, page, or how By the People works? You have options:
  • Read through our FAQ.
  • Connect with our team and other volunteers in our discussion forum on History Hub, where everyone can join in the discussion.
  • Send us a message via the Contact Us page.

  • Ready to give it a try?

    LET'S GO!